Jerry Lewis is Alive, but Lost, in Paris

I have some very personal feelings about politics 

but I don’t get into it

because I do comedy already.

– Jerry Lewis

Jerry Lewis was lauded in France as an auteur for his freewheeling, unscripted zaniness long after English-speaking audiences grew tired of his antics.  The reason is simple: his humour was physical and more easily appreciated by speakers of other languages unburdened by expectations of sophisticated plot, clever dialogue, and character development.

Lost in Paris [Paris pieds nus] is a feature film written, directed, and starring a married couple: Fiona Gordon and Dominique Abel. The plot is simple: a Canadian woman (Gordon) travels to Paris to save her senile aunt (Emmauelle Riva) from assisted living and falls in love with a homeless man (Abel).  The charm of the film – and, yes, the film has its charming moments – is in the face and posture of Fiona Gordon, who, like Jerry Lewis, is an attractive, graceful actor ably portraying an ugly and awkward outsider.  Opening scenes propel the film into magical realism aloft color compositions that would make Wes Anderson blush and Gordon’s pasty-faced innocence.  Lost in Paris runs aground once Abel appears. With sculpted muscles and perfect posture, Abel is unconvincing as a homeless person.  Gordon and Abel have an excellent scene together while dancing and another in a cemetery, but otherwise, they don’t make for a very convincing couple despite the very fact that they actually are married. 

Over the course of two hours, Gordon’s face becomes familiar and the cinematography loses its lustre, as if shot on the cheap.   Even Paris appears underwhelming – neither grand nor grungy enough to maintain the film’s initial magic.  The late Emmauelle Riva, best known for Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959), also has a dancing scene craftily choreographed on a bench, but she does not connect well with Gordon or Abel.  An implied sexual liaison she has with Abel’s character, an Oedipal moment by way of Electra’s Clytemnestra in the last few moments of the film, has the texture of a ill-conceived lump on an otherwise flat plotline.

One of the most marvelous things about cinema is its capacity to transport viewers from our perpetually troubled existence, and in that way, Lost In Paris could make for a nice diversion for someone grieving or ill and it has the stuff of a fun date with your favorite elderly aunt.  If, however, you seek to see something more substantial than a Jerry Lewis movie, aim your eyes elsewhere.

JEFFREY WENGROFSKY – New York, November 2017

More on Jeffrey Wengrofsky’s short films via the website Syndicate of Human Image Traffickers and the upcoming feature: Song of Hiawatha.

Lost In Paris is in selected UK cinemas now.  

Throw your lavender pounds towards it…


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