The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Lost in Paris

Lost in Paris is a real charmer. The French film -- written and directed by its stars, Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon serves as a fine modern-day example of slapstick comedy. That's a notoriously difficult thing to pull off, especially in a movie that wants to have a heart to match the size of its laughs. They make it work, though, resulting in one of 2017's finest imports.

Fiona lives in a snowy Canadian village. She travels to Paris to help her doddering aunt Martha (Emmanuelle Riva) avoid being sent to a nursing home. Immediately after arriving, she loses the backpack that contains her clothes and money. It's found by Dom, a homeless man who can't believe his good fortune. The two eventually meet, with him wearing her sweater. After Martha goes missing, they engage in a mishap-laden search that brings them together in romance.

Lost in Paris contains comedic set pieces that are reminiscent of the silly-and-sweet mixture that marked the work of Charlie Chaplin. For instance, there is a spontaneous musical number in which we see only the feet of two people sitting on a park bench going through the choreography. Other sequences have the kind of mischievous absurdity that was found in early Mel Brooks movies. A split-screen bit in which Fiona and Dom simultaneously have sex dreams about one another is very funny. So is an ingenuously-conceived segment in which Dom and the diners in a fancy restaurant are hilariously affected by the placement of a speaker. There's real invention in the film's humor.

Slapstick requires skilled performers. Abel and Gordon know how to do it properly. Both of them create fully-formed, empathetic characters, while still playing the most ridiculous of situations in a completely straight manner. Many of the movie's delights come from seeing how they react to the circumstances in which they find themselves. (Dom's impromptu speech at a funeral is particularly uproarious, as is the awkward Fiona's uncomfortable encounter with a set of elevator doors.) The danger of slapstick is losing the humanity of the protagonists and having the antics take center stage. That doesn't happen here, because the leads are so incredibly gifted at bringing pathos to the comedy. The legendary Emmanuelle Riva is also excellent, avoiding the usual elderly people cliches.

There's not a lot of plot to Lost in Paris. It's largely a series of comic situations strung together. Despite that limitation, the film proves to be extremely entertaining, earning genuine laughs while also depicting the way love sometimes grows in weird, unexpected ways. It makes you feel good inside.

( out of four)

Lost in Paris is unrated, but contains some language and innuendo. The running time is 1 hour and 23 minutes.

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