Beginning with vistas of Paris at dawn as a pa-rum-pum-pah samba song shimmies on the soundtrack, Paris Je T'Aime times its opening credits so that the title comes up as the Eiffel Tower is showered with a cascade of fireworks and the strings kick in during the music. It's a fair warning: If you want sociology or cultural critique, go somewhere else, friend. Featuring 18 segments by 18 separate directors, Paris Je T'Aime isn't just a boon to any film writer who gets paid by the word; it's also a charming document of each director's love affair with Paris. And, like a real love affair, it's not afraid to look at complexities and compromises, to tackle tough challenges in the hope of reaping great rewards.
Perhaps the nicest thing about Paris Je T'Aime is how the 2-hour running time means that each director has to work on the run; and, if you don't like a segment, you simply have to wait a short while for something else to come along. Many films offer us a feast; Paris Je T'Aime is more like a tasting menu, with a series of chefs -- some known, some not -- offering a small serving of romance or comedy or pathos or all three and then clearing the way for another cook. Every segment revolves around love -- but love, of course, is not always happy. And there is some sociology afoot in Paris Je T'Aime -- whether it's Catalina Sandino Moreno's portrait of a working-class nanny or glimpses of the interactions and negotiations that make up Parisian life.