Rediscovering French joie de vivre while Lost in Paris
by Nicolas Raffin
- The Belgian-Canadian duo of Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon are back with just as daring and ludicrous a comedy as their previous ventures
The Belgian-Canadian duo of Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon are back with Lost in Paris, a farcical comedy, in which they star on and off the screen, having written and directed the film, as well as acting in it. Selected in the Laugh section of the 60th BFI London Film Festival, the film was also selected earlier in the year in competition at the Telluride Film Festival.
The plot is separated into tableaus featuring three characters who will be drawn together by fate: Fiona (Fiona Gordon), a Canadian librarian, Martha (Emmanuelle Riva), Fiona’s aunt, and Dom (Dominique Abel), a homeless Parisian man. When Fiona receives a letter from Martha, asking her to visit her in Paris to avoid being put into a retirement home, Fiona accepts, finally getting a chance to realise her life’s dream. Of course, she wasn’t counting on the bad luck that seemingly followed her: she’s left without her things after falling into the Seine and her aunty is impossible to find, as she is trying to hide from the nurses. Dom meets Fiona in a chic restaurant on the Seine, and, through an unlikely chain of events, the two develop a kind of love-hate relationship.
Abel and Gordon admirably make use of a range of different types of theatrical elements, as if they were putting on a demonstration. All of the film’s humoristic tension stems from a situation comedy: Fiona, in spite of how close she gets to her aunt, never quite manages to find her, and between them is Dom, who doesn’t realise that the other two are looking for each other. But the film’s tone is also highly satirical, as much as political correctness will allow: Dom is portrayed as a self-obsessed, almost arrogant homeless man, and Fiona as an incredibly naive Canadian dazzled by the bright lights of the French capital. Wordplay is not only present in the dialogue, but is also portrayed visually.
But, above all else, the filmmakers’ humour lies in the use of their body: their acting is incredibly physical, harking back to silent films or the works of Jacques Tati. Although, instead of merely imitating them, the actors caricature them, re-adapting them for the era and it works perfectly. With Lost in Paris, Abel and Gordon have created a charming film that is accessible, light-hearted and comforting, the likes of which are hard to come by in the current cinematographic landscape.
Lost in Paris is produced by Courage Mon Amour, the outfit founded by the duo, and co-produced by Moteur S'il Vous Plaît and CG Cinéma. The film has also received the backing of the European Union’s MEDIA Programme. Distributed by Potemkine Films in France and sold internationally by MK2 Films, UK distribution rights are still available for purchase.
Our 60th BFI London Film Festival coverage is run in collaboration with the UK National Film and Television School's MA in Film Studies, Programming and Curation.
(Translated from French)