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By Kam Williams, Special to The Skanner
Published: 22 September 2009

Pierre (Romain Duris) was enjoying a flourishing career as a chorus line dancer until he was diagnosed with advanced heart disease. He turns to his sister Elise (Juliette Binoche) for support, and the selfless social worker rushes to his side to assist however she can. Soon, the divorced, 40-year-old decides to move in with her brother, bringing along her three rambunctious children, energetic souls who help inject a joie de vivre back into their ailing uncle.

For the relatively-young man's world has become restricted to the confines of his Paris apartment while he waits for word of a transplant donor. And although he is understandably dejected about his doctor's dire prognosis, at least Pierre has loved ones around and a spacious, upper-floor flat with a balcony offering breathtaking, bird's eye views of the city below.
Moreover, his plight makes him more appreciative of the little things in life, and he starts observing both neighbors and strangers from a fresh perspective. So unfolds "Paris," an ensemble drama directed by Cedric Klapisch, ever so reminiscent of "Amelie" (2001), the similarly-serendipitous Oscar-nominee in the Best Foreign Film category.
But instead of a naïve waif, we have melancholy Pierre serving as the link to a motley cast of colorful characters. For instance, we find emotionally-vulnerable Elise flirting with a macho fishmonger (Albert Dupontel) she meets in the market. Then there's the pretty neighbor (Melanie Laurent) who becomes the object of her college professor's (Fabrice Luchini) obsession. Elsewhere, a racist snob (Karin Viard) only reluctantly hires an African immigrant (Kingsley Kum Abang) to work in her shop.
These loosely interlocking tales ultimately lead an envious Pierre to the conclusion that none of the above "know how lucky they are to be walking… breathing… running… arguing… to be just like that, carefree in Paris!" A sage insight from a housebound invalid that we all have a lot to be thankful for and that we should never take our health for granted.

Excellent (3.5 stars)
Rated R for profanity and sexual references.
In French with subtitles.
Running time: 124 minutes
Studio: IFC Films

To see a trailer for Paris, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwROhrqTyi8

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