Paris 36 (Faubourg 36) was the opening movie for the 2009 Alliance Française French Film Festival and since they had another session for Friday evening, I decided to skip the opening night and just watch it in their second session.
The director, Christophe Barratier, is also the same guy behind Le Choristes – he also casts the same main actor for the movie, Gerard Jugnot. The story is about a local theatre called Chansonia who has to be closed because the owner can’t pay his debt to a local mafia, Galapiat. The amateur artists band together and try to keep it afloat with their acts, and is saved by an unexpected star, Douce. A complication occurs when Galapiat falls head over heels with Douce, when Douce herself falls in love with a communist-wanna-be member of the team, Milou. In the middle of all of this, the main character, Pigoil (Jugnot) is the one trying hard to keep the theatre running so that he can prove to the authority that he has a decent job. The movie is set in late 1930’s, when the struggle between communism, nationalism, and unionism converges in a clash.
Paris 36 is lush with great period music – the songs and the characters are charming. The cinematography is mostly beautiful even though the zooming and panning camera from weird angle can be a little bit too much in one or two of the scenes. Whilst I didn’t find it as engaging as I would like it to be, the songs in the movie are the saving grace. I couldn’t help smiling when I listened to the songs. The actress playing Douce, Nora Arnezeder is also well-casted for the role – fragile but with an inner strength, shy but sassy. So all in all, I enjoy the movie and I would recommend it to you if you’d like to watch a good quality French movie in the near future.