Les Passagers de la nuit A Serenade to Paris

Favorite movie of the first half of 2022.I would recommend it to everyone who loves Paris.I didn’t even know that it had been posted in the Literary Gazette at the beginning of the month, or that I only found it today when I saw Mr. Flower write about Proust haha.I listened to the occasional eight points throughout the long late nights of July with heavy insomnia, and occasionally wrote my serenade to Paris.I was also the one who met the director in the Latin Quarter, asked for an autograph and took a group photo! Can I play “Charell” at the end of the summer? Filmothèque du Quartier Latin, did you hear the cry of the crowd?

In May this year, Les Passagers de la nuit (Paris Night Travelers), directed by Mikhaël Hers, was released in France. In February, the film was nominated for the Golden Bear Award for Best Film at the 72nd Berlin International Film Festival. Les Passagers de la nuit stars Charlotte Gainsbourg and Emmanuelle Béart, who reunite after 1999’s La bûche (The Christmas Cake). The film is set in Paris in the 1980s, with a lot of interspersed historical footage that immediately draws the audience back to the past. The film is divided into three time periods. The story begins on the night of May 10-11, 1981, when François Mitterrand was elected president of France, becoming the first leftist president to govern in the history of the Fifth Republic, and the whole of France is immersed in an atmosphere of jubilation.

The scene lasts only a few minutes. Time passed in a flash to 1984. At that time, France was undergoing austerity policies due to the economic crisis of fiscal deficit and inflation. At the same time, Elisabeth had just recovered from breast cancer, her husband left her, she had to raise her two children alone, and she had to start looking for a job again under great pressure after years away from the workplace. After a long time of suffering from insomnia and spending long nights with the late night show “Parisian Night Traveler” on Maison de la Radio, Elisabeth wrote a cover letter to the show’s producer, who was impressed by the sincerity of the content, and after a few moments of conversation, Elisabeth was offered the job as an operator. During the day, Elizabeth also worked part-time at the neighborhood library, and although her income was not great, her life was gradually getting on track.

During a late-night taping, Elizabeth meets Tallulah, a young girl who has been wandering around for years and has no place to live, and Elizabeth lets Tallulah stay in her attic temporarily. Elizabeth’s two children are about Tallulah’s age: her oldest daughter, Judit, is a senior in high school and is passionate about political activism, and her youngest son, Matthias, is a sophomore in high school and loves to write poetry. The three get along well, talking and watching movies together. Matthias grows attached to Tallulah, but Tallulah leaves late one night without saying goodbye.

The camera crosses to 1988. Mitterrand is about to finish his first seven-year term as president and is seeking re-election. One day, Tallulah reappears, and Elizabeth sees the stitches in her arm and takes her home, determined to see her through. One of the best images in the film is the four of them dancing together in a large living room with a vinyl record player playing Joe Dassin’s song “If You Didn’t Exist” (Si tu n’existais pas ) …… but the story doesn’t set here. Like a little bird, Tallulah flies away again. Her ex-husband wants to sell the house and Elisabeth has to move as soon as possible. The camera shows the room gradually emptied of its furniture, and outside the window the lights of a million homes glowing in the sullen Parisian night.

Born in 1975, Parisian Night Traveler is his fourth feature film. 2010’s Memory Lane, 2015’s Ce sentiment de l’été, and 2018’s Amanda, all show the director’s The director’s meticulous portrayal of character portraits and emotions can be seen in the previous film Amanda. In his last film, Amanda, Vincent Lacoste, a young actor of the new generation, gave an extraordinary performance, winning the Best Film and Best Screenplay in the main competition of the 31st Tokyo International Film Festival. Also set in Paris, David’s sister is killed in a terrorist attack, and David accompanies his niece Amanda as she recovers from the trauma and rebuilds her life. The story is also set in Paris, where David’s sister is killed in a terrorist attack. The same is true of “Parisian Night Traveler”. Charlotte Gainsbourg brings the strong image of a single mother to life in front of the audience, and the media considers this to be one of her best roles in recent years.

The story of “Paris by Night” was shot on location in the Beaugrenelle area of the 15th arrondissement of Paris. The neighborhood is adjacent to the Seine River, and it is only a short walk across the Pont de Grenelle to Radio France in the 16th arrondissement, where Elisabeth works. Paris in the 1980s seems not to have changed at all compared to today: line 6 of the subway runs across Paris, and since part of the route is open-air, it offers a panoramic view of the scenery near the Tower; riding a motorcycle across the Seine, the Statue of Liberty of Paris stands quietly in the middle of the river; the walls of the Escurial cinema in the 5th arrondissement are covered with all kinds of posters, and the crowd at the end of the show talks about The walls of the Escurial cinema in the 5th arrondissement were covered with posters, and the crowds were talking about the films they had just seen; the doors of the bars were crowded at night, and the late-night radio stations came as promised, accompanying everyone who was in a hurry to return home. Like a rickety green train, “Parisian Night Traveler” blurs memory and time ……

When it comes to the elements of memory, time and Paris, the first to come to mind is the Nobel Prize winner in literature, French writer Patrick Modiano. Also with a love for the city of Paris, and also as an expert in Parisian topography, Ayse and Modiano have shown us the Paris of yesteryear with their lenses and words respectively. This association is not unfounded. In fact, the first 45-minute short film, Charell, made by Michaëlle Ayse in 2006, was adapted from the 11th chapter of Modiano’s novel De si braves garçons (1982). In the book, the protagonist meets his junior high school friend Charell by chance at the North Station of the Paris train, and Charell takes him to a nearby apartment where, a few days later, Charell is wounded by two revolver bullets …… Director Ace says outright that this chapter has the melancholic, impressionistic style of Modiano’s work, but also has a certain This chapter has the melancholic, impressionistic style of Modiano’s work, but also a certain hidden and soft violence. In 2010, the feature film “Memory Lane”, inspired by Modiano’s novel of the same name, tells the story of a group of 20-somethings in the suburbs of Paris, occasionally referred to by the media as “the Modiano of cinema”.

Not only the city of Paris, but also Michaëlle Ayse and Patrick Modiano are good at portraying the young people of the confused generation, as if they are the most distinctive footnote of youth. Modiano’s young people, who spend their days doing nothing, wandering the streets of Paris, squandering their youth with reckless abandon, are exemplified by the protagonist Luigi in his novel “Café de la Jeunesse”, which stretches out with sorrowful farewells. In Ace’s “Paris Night Traveler”, Matthias and Tallulah climb up to the rooftop of a building to smoke and chat while overlooking the night view of Paris; or they ride their motorcycles late at night, shuttling through the streets of Paris, sitting by the Seine River for a drink, but accidentally fall into the water. In addition, in “Paris Night Traveler”, we can also clearly glimpse the director’s tribute to the French New Wave films. In the film, three young people watch Eric Homais’ “The Full Moon Reflects the Flowers” and Jacques Rivette’s “Le Pont du Nord”, both starring Pascale Ogier, in the cinema. As fate would have it, in 1984, at the age of 25, Ogier died of a heart attack. Ogier’s fate seemed to suggest the future of Tallulah: a fleeting youth.

For director Ace, Paris in the 1980s was his youth, an unparalleled memory, and “The Parisian Night Traveler” is like a serenade to his Paris of yesteryear. Today, Hemingway’s classic quote is a household word: If you were lucky enough to live in Paris when you were young, then wherever you go, Paris will follow you for the rest of your life, because Paris is a mobile feast. At night, the water of the Seine under the starlight flowed slowly and tirelessly, and we were like a Parisian night traveler, meeting, parting, meeting again, parting again, on the road to nowhere, looking back fondly at our youthful years from time to time, and then gently saying: hello, sorrow.

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