Lost in Paris, the new film by Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon, is the ultimate cinematic irritant. I imagine its target audience as the type of person who could watch The Grand Budapest Hotel and find it to be neither mannered nor detached enough. It’s as if Wes Anderson woke up one day and decided that his films, to this point, have been overly sentimental, and that going forward he would have to kick up the twee factor by 20% or so (say, by having Jason Schwartzman play every character in every one of his films from here on out.)
The film sets up its flat, primary-color infused visual palette right out of the gate with a cute bit that brings to mind a running gag from Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, at the same time evoking Fantastic Mr. Fox — Paris has a stop-motion quality to it throughout. There’s precisely one (1) funny moment buried in Lost in Paris’s heaps of low-rent Andersonian mannerisms; it occurs when Gordon’s character — Gordon and Abel star as well as direct — poses for a picture on a bridge and promptly falls backward off the bridge and into the water down below. It’s unexpected and got a laugh out of me. Other than that, I spent the duration of the film wishing it was over.
The film’s sense of timing is all off, affecting its individual jokes, but its pacing and structure are even worse. There’s barely a respite from the barrage of tweeness being forced down the viewer’s throat.
The premise is as follows. Fiona, a Canadian, visits Paris to see her aunt. Her aunt, it turns out, is missing. Then Fiona falls into a river and loses all her belongings, which are later discovered by a homeless man named Dom (Abel). Then Dom and Fiona end up around each other a lot for the rest of the movie, a result of extreme coincidence and some light stalking on the part of Dom. It’s Wes Anderson by way of Amélie.
The filmmakers’ cribbing of Anderson’s style goes as far as the font of the opening title – it’s [almost] identical to the font used in the titles of all Anderson films.
Lost in Paris is an annoying movie. What it comes down to, ultimately, is your tolerance threshold for annoying ripped-off Wes Anderson formalism. And that’s about as good a place to end this review as any.
P.S. For an example of a significantly more successful Wes Anderson pastiche, see my IFFBoston review of Janzica Bravo’s Lemon.