PARIS, 13TH DISTRICT (LES OLYMPIADES)

Reporting from the Denver Film Festival.

At first blush, Paris, 13th District appears to be a collection of short stories. It starts with Camille (Makita Samba) meeting Émilie (Lucie Zhang). He is looking for a room to rent, and she is looking for a roommate. I was hoping for a girl, Émilie tells Camille. I can pay, Camille responds. Émilie relents, and they open with sex. Both have healthy sex drives but are forgetful when it comes to establishing boundaries. The relationship goes south, and 30 minutes into Paris, 13th District, director Jacques Audiard fades to black, and the story picks up with Nora (Noémie Merlant), a woman in her early 30s going to law school.

Technically speaking, Paris doesn’t immediately pick up with Nora after the fade to black. There is another character in between, but I won’t spoil the surprise. I also won’t spoil the surprise of how Nora’s story intersects with Camille’s and eventually Émilie’s because that is the business of the movie. 

In that regard, Paris, 13th District manages to turn a collection of vignettes into a full-length story of young professionals in love, entering and exiting one another’s life. The performances are good, as is the pacing, and the black and white cinematography from Paul Guilhaume is particularly captivating. For 90 minutes, Paris, 13th District is a compelling watch. If only the ending weren’t so conventional, it could have been something special.

Paris, 13th District is playing the Denver Film Festival on Friday, Nov. 5 at 6:15 p.m. and Tuesday, Nov. 9 at 4:15 p.m.