8.2

Paris 36

Movies Reviews Christophe Barratier
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Paris 36

Director: Christophe Barratier

Writers: Christophe Barratier, Pierre Philippe, Julien Rappeneau

Cinematographer: Tom Stern

Starring: Gérard Jugnot, Nora Arnezeder, Clovis Cornillac, Kad Merad

Studio/Run time: Sony Pictures Classics, 120 mins.


As entertaining as it is sappy


With 2004’s well received The Chorus, Christophe Barratier established himself as a director sensitive to the impact of music upon the soul of a child. In Paris 36 he has extended that sensitivity to the soul of a 1936 Parisian community. The result is a gladsome success. Gérard Jugnot, who played the music teacher in The Chorus, teams with Barratier again—this time as the soft-hearted Pigoil, life-serving stage manager of Chansonia music hall in the Faubourg suburb of Paris. Jugnot’s world comes crashing down when his wife leaves him, taking his only son just as the theater closes its doors. If that’s not enough, fascist influences of Hitler and Mussolini are clashing with the country’s financially strapped citizens. But the numerous sub-plots successfully avoid confusion as Pigoil re-opens the theater with the help of his friends.


Providing some wonderfully spirited songs, the characters of Paris 36 gleefully reverberate throughout the film. But none are as memorable as Douce, played well beyond experience by 19-year-old Nora Arnezeder. Passing an audition because of her beauty, Douce becomes the star of the theater’s re-opening upon discovery of her amazing voice. Arnezeder mirrors her character as an unknown with stunning talent who also had to audition for this role, bringing what should propel her into a successful future.


There are moments when it feels that Barratier is trying to feed us too much—the history, the setting, the performances, the conflicts. And it may be a little overly sentimental and sappy. However, after one particular show-stopping musical number soars into a Busby Berkeley dreamlike fantasy, the film is no doubt entertaining.