July 14, 2021
Audiard brings his typical visual fluency to this entertaining collection of interlocking stories about characters hooking up in the 13th arrondissement
Paris, 13th District review – Jacques Audiard’s sexy apartment-block anthology
Jacques Audiard’s freewheeling ensemble picture Paris, 13th District, or Les Olympiades, is a sexy film about sexiness. Sexiness is the glue that binds the film and provides the connective tissue between its disparate scenes and its cast of characters. The movie lives in the jittery longing of before-sex, the woozy residue of after-sex, the urgency of during-sex. People here have a lot of sex, and the older non-sex-having people (a dad, a grandma) are mostly absent, though the dad actually is having sex (off camera). But when the sex is withdrawn, it leaves behind a sadness and a resentment that the film leaves mostly unsaid.
Les Olympiades is the name of the high-rise apartment blocks in the 13th arrondissement of Paris where the action is mostly located – and the film is shot in an unsentimental black-and-white that never makes the city look beautiful in any nouvelle vague style. It is adapted from some stories in the 2015 collection Killing and Dying by the American comic-book artist Adrian Tomine and transplanted from the US to France. It may be that Audiard’s film does not deliver quite the sweetness and empathy for which Tomine’s stories were admired, but there is tremendous fluency and visual charge in his film-making; he gets strongly engaged performances from his cast, and his storytelling has gusto. Audiard also unselfconsciously carries off that mysterious joined-up world effect of a character from one story showing up in another: the discreet sprinkling of happenstance and coincidence that occurs throughout the film.
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