Lost In Paris ***

Throwback comedy tickles the funny bone with innocent souls and innocent fun. 

Is it worth $10? Yes 

“Lost In Paris” is an effective throwback to the great physical comedies of the silent era, which makes it a welcome respite from the crass comedies so often released today. This is pure, innocent silliness with a hearty soul; it’s not for everyone, but for those who appreciate its craft it’s an absolute delight.

Fiona (Fiona Gordon) is a librarian who’s never ventured far from her snowy Canadian home. One day she gets a letter from her elderly Aunt Martha (Emmanuelle Riva), a former dancer now living in Paris, asking for help because her caretakers want her to move to an assisted living facility. So Fiona goes to Paris to help – but can’t find Aunt Martha!

Hijinks, misunderstandings and zaniness ensue, most of which involves poor Fiona and her flailing French trying to make her way around the city. She falls into the Seine, loses her luggage, her phone, part of her dignity. The only help she receives is from a homeless scamp named Dom (Dominique Abel), who’s an opportunist with a good heart.

Those versed in the art of pantomime and clowns will find much to appreciate in the performances, and those not familiar with the techniques will laugh with everyone else along the way. Watching Abel and Gordon, who are a husband and wife team heretofore largely unknown in the U.S. but well respected in Europe, one is reminded of the great French comedian Jacques Tati, as well as Buster Keaton and other silent comedians. They understand comedy is about timing, and humor is derived through context; watch what happens when the bass on the restaurant speaker is too loud, or when Fiona and Dom spring into an impromptu dance, or when they perilously climb the Eiffel Tower. These scenes rely on physical grace and timing for their effect, and all are funny.

That’s not to say there’s no word play at all. In one scene, Dom inexplicably gives a funeral eulogy for someone he doesn’t know. Just that alone is funny. It starts innocently enough, but soon he gets carried away and says outrageous things (racism!?). For an 84-minute movie that’s in both French (with subtitles) and English but only sparsely uses dialog, it makes the most of its spoken words.

“Lost In Paris” will likely not be a big enough hit to make Abel and Gordon, who
wrote, starred in, produced and directed the film, household names in the U.S., but it could get them on the right track. If nothing else they’re a welcome throwback to what’s becoming the lost art form of physical comedy.

Did you know?
This is one of the last roles Oscar nominee Emmanuelle Riva (“Amour”) completed before she died of cancer in January 2017.

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