Posted by Larry Gleeson
With Oscilloscope Laboratories, Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon have pumped out their seventh film together, Lost in Paris, a burlesque comedy, about a small-town Canadian librarian, Fiona, portrayed by Gordon, whose life is disrupted by a letter of distress from her Aunt Martha, who is living in Paris. Fiona hops on the first plane she can only to discover Aunt Martha has disappeared. In a myriad of episodic disasters, Fiona encounters a strangely seductive and oddly egotistical vagabond, Dom, portrayed by Abel, who won’t leave her alone. Replete with amazing antics, a measure of poetic license and a slapstick-like choreography, Lost in Paris reveals a peculiar story of clownish characters finding love while lost in the City of Lights.
Utilizing a simple narrative within a framework of what appears to be an amateuresque investigation, Abel and Gordon allow their burlesque, larger-than-life characters’ physical performances to take hold and engage the viewers. Almost all the events take place over a period of two days and two nights with the characters bumping into each other almost constantly while in a heightened state of emergency.
Aunt Martha, portrayed unequivocally by 88-year-old, renowned French actress and Academy Award-nominee, Emmanuelle Riva, is a headstrong, independent, audacious and seemingly happy senior citizen on the verge of being placed into a nursing home. Her freedom is non-negotiable and she represents liberty, lightheartedness and “joie de vivre” (exuberant enjoyment of life).
Fiona embodies a spinster librarian living in rural Canada. She becomes a wonderstruck tourist who is lacking in life experience as she stumbles through every step of her rather awkward journey. In contrast to Martha, Fiona has rarely done anything adventurous until diving headfirst into Martha’s world. It becomes apparent Fiona is a Martha in the making as she understands Martha.
Dom is a selfish, conceited hobo who carries himself with an elegance despite his tattered and worn clothes. At first, his impulsiveness infuriates both Martha and Fiona. As the story unfolds, Dom becomes a liberating presence.
Interestingly, all the film’s characters are non-conformist – full of hope, resistance and innocense – while evoking laughter, vulnerability and beauty. Actor Pierre Richard portrays Norman, an elderly, independent, charismatic artist who resurfaces three times throughout the film’s storyline, with grace, humor and charm.
Lost in Paris, firmly anchored in contemporary society, opens in Los Angeles, July 7th, is a funny, poetic, heroic and sometimes pathetic piece about human beings who are knocked about by life and flail in order to exist….and who keep getting up one more time to live their lives on their own life’s terms.