Apr 29, 2012

An American in France: Day 2

l'Amour (French Kiss)
What a difference a day makes! After the first, rain-soaked day in Paris, it could really only get better. And boy, did it. The Tableau Your Mind family enjoyed a beautiful sunny day visiting the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Louis Vuitton, the Champs Elysees, Montmartre, and the Sacre Coeur. It was a busy day, full of romance (and war and nationalism and sex and a little religion). But for the purpose of this post, let's focus on the romance. France is built on a solid foundation of love, the ville de l'amour. And while plenty of French filmmakers have explored this love affair, I think, to go along with the monuments and landmarks I encountered, we should explore films directed by and American, an Aussie, and, okay, a Frenchman.

Of course, France and love is so closely tied with the activity the country is named for, so let's start with the film French Kiss, which stars Meg Ryan as an American adrift in Paris,
searching for her lost love, and Kevin Kline as the French con-man who (Spoiler Alert) steals her heart. It's a surprisingly romantic film, filled with French-ness and Meg Ryan, adorable and unthreateningly beautiful.  What the film really nails, though, is the exploration of Paris from a tourist's perspective. All the rudeness amidst the romance. That's what really makes France sing.

Moulin Rouge! in Montmartre
 And speaking of singing, we soon headed to Montmartre and checked out the Moulin Rouge... I don't think I need to say what movie that reminded me of. It's surprising how unlike Moulin Rouge! the Moulin Rouge is. In fact, the whole area is a bit underwhelming. It's kind of tiny. The film, on the other hand, is grandiose - gorgeous, rich in color, texture, and smut. Nicole Kidman's dead eyes sparkle with life, and Ewan McGregor is reliably great. There;s nothing more French than a doomed romance, filled with ennui and devastation at every turn. Even with all of the pain and misery, it's love - intense, blinding, intensely passionate and quickly ending. But love... love in blues and reds.

Amélie at the actual cafe in the film.
Now, if you want to see love in green, look no further than Amélie, the Frenchiest French film of the three. Amélie Poulain (played by Audrey Tautou) works in the sex district as well, but as a waitress instead of a courtesan, and she is so impressively twee. She is the Manic Pixie Dream Girl that Zooey Deschanel wishes she could be. She dreams of Princess Diana, literally melts when she sees the man she loves, leaves Zorro-esque clues at Photomats, and skips rocks while while birds braid her hair (okay, maybe not that).  And her world is populated with similarly adorable characters: A shut-in who recreates classic works of art, a hypochondriac coworker, and, most importantly, a large-nosed paramour. Their love story is brief. They barely meet, but it is still very powerful.

Hopefully, like me and France.

Until tomorrow,


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