Film Review: Paris Memories

Set in the aftermath of the horrific November 2015 terrorist attacks in the heart of Paris – Paris Memories follows survivors as they try to come to terms with a tragedy that will change the course of their lives forever.

The acclaimed French language film Revoir Paris, renamed Paris Memories, is the story of Mia (Virginie Efira) and her journey to overcome trauma induced amnesia as the result of a terrorist attack. Directed by Alice Winocour the film is based on her own experience with a 2015 attack.

The film opens with bright blue skies and views of the Paris skyline from Mia’s balcony. We glimpse an insight into the life of Russian interpreter Mia, her medico partner and their cat.

Failed dinner plans and rain see Mia seek refuge in a busy bistro. Detail driven footage provides us with an insight into other diners. Happy tourists snapping selfies, a group loudly celebrating a birthday with cake, and elegantly dressed patrons. A leaking pen sees Mia visit the bathrooms to wash ink from her hands.

Her return to the restaurant dining area coincides with a gunman opening fire. The terror and gravity of the situation is tastefully portrayed through the unseen, with a focus on small detail and sound. A black screen the signal that Mia has been harmed.

It is several months post terrorist attack that we next see Mia grappling with a physical scar, and the emotional trauma of her inability to recall the events of the night. The bright blue Parisian sky is replaced by grey subdued tones that in no way detract from the beauty of the Paris streetscape.

Through Mia’s pursuit of lost memories we are introduced to other characters directly, or indirectly involved with the terrorist attack, and their own personal search for answers and peace. There is Thomas the birthday reveller, and Felicia grieving the loss of her parents.

Flashbacks, shared stories, and small details see the fabric of the story stitched together. The bistro, the site of the terrorist attack becomes a meeting place for a group of strangers that become family through shared pain and suffering.

The film explores the stress and damage caused to relationships as spouses, and family struggle to comprehend the ongoing psychological impacts of the attack.

A series of compelling and tender interludes accompanied by a churning musical score, and beautiful cinematography culminate in the pieces of Mia’s story coming together. It is the tale of life long bonds formed through adversity and the impact of a shared moment in time.

It is easy to see why Virginie Efira was awarded the Best Actress Cesar (French Oscar) Award for her role.

A questionable Australian accent the only criticism in this moving story.

The sub-titles for non-French speaking viewers are easy to follow, and the nature of the dialogue means there is no rush to keep up with the text.

Paris Memories is a captivating retracing of steps and investigation of memories. Well worth watching.

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