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The Crack Magazine

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Paris Memories

Director: Alice Winocour

Stars: Virginie Efira, Benoît Magimel, Grégoire Colin, Nastya Golubeva Carax

Partly inspired by the experiences of her brother who was present at the Bataclan in 2015 on the night of the Paris terrorist attacks, writer-director Winocour’s picture is a moving, if slightly contrived, study of loss and recovery. Belgian actor Efira, from Paul Verhoeven’s ‘Benedetta’, is Mia, a woman working as a Russian translator in Paris, and seemingly stuck in a passionless marriage to her doctor husband Vincent (Colin). One night, after Vincent is called away during a dinner appointment, she wanders the Paris streets before settling on a bistro for a drink. An armed attack occurs, horrifyingly realised by Winocour and editor Julien Lacheray, and Mia cowers under a table as fellow diners are slaughtered. Although she escapes with an injury, she is unable to remember anything about the incident and struggles with survivor guilt. Vincent is unsympathetic and impatient for his wife to move on, so Mia begins attending a support group that meets at the refurbished bistro. There she meets the injured Thomas, a brash but sensitive financier (another great performance from Magimel following his recent turn in ‘Pacification’) who had been celebrating his birthday the night of the attack. As she attempts to rebuild her life, Mia, zipping around Paris on her motorbike, searches for the man who had held her hand when the attack happened. Mia’s trajectory is fairly predictable and the script suffers from an overdetermined quality, but Efira is excellent, her internalised performance effectively communicating Mia’s painstaking recovery, while her burgeoning friendship with Thomas is sensitively realised. Winocour locates a tentative hope in a tragic scenario without compromising the material, and the conclusion is very moving.

David Willoughby

Follow David on Twitter @DWill_Crackfilm

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