For nearly all of America’s history, sexual encounters have been labeled as taboo in the media and are obsolete from the majority of Hollywood films today. From a Western perspective, Paris, 13th District is so refreshing as it never shies away from the fact that humans are sexual beings that crave to be desired. The intertwining intimate relationships between Nora, Camille, and Émile feel authentic to society’s contemporary relational outlook.
Unfortunately, director Jacques Audiard’s tackling of cell phone’s effects on modern romances is not as refined. The film’s depiction of cancel culture and dating apps feels about five years outdated. Additionally, Émile’s storyline is out of sync with the main romance and would have likely been suited to its own film.
Despite the specificity of its title, Paris, 13th District is still universal in its message and a satisfying, sophisticated romance that simply isn’t being made in the States anymore.
The Silver Lining
While Émile’s storyline may feel out of place, it’s also the best part about Paris, 13th District. Émile’s struggle with internal self-confidence while projecting an air of assurance is an riveting catharsis, especially considering the other two leads are too self-involved to sympathize with. Noémie Merlant and credited screenwriter Céline Sciamma (a reunion after their 2019 collaboration, Portrait of a Lady on Fire) crafted a fantastic emotional arc for Émile and should be paired together for as many features as they’d like.
Paris, 13th District is a part of the Chicago International Film Festival’s 2021 lineup. Buy your tickets for the virtual (now until Oct. 24th) screening now!