Tuesday, April 19, 2011

At The Same Time

"14e Arrondissement"
by Alexander Payne
from Paris, Je T'Aime (2006)

They say a lot of things about Paris. They say it's a place where artists find inspiration. They say it's a place where people come to discover something new about their lives. They say it's a place where you can find love. Of course, at my age, I didn't expect any of that ...

And then something happened, something that is hard to describe. Sitting there in a foreign country, far from my job and all the people I knew, a feeling came over me. As if I recalled something, something that I had never known and for which I had been waiting. But I didn't know what it was. Maybe it was something I had forgotten. Or something I had missed my whole life. I can only tell you that, at the same time, I felt joy and sadness. But not a great sadness.

Because I felt alive. Yes. Alive.

That was the moment I fell in love with Paris and the moment that I felt that Paris had fallen in love with me.

I felt GREAT joy this past weekend watching a delightful film called, Paris, Je T'Aime ("Paris, I Love You").  A brilliant concept ... 20 different directors, each directing a 5-minute segment that shows some aspect of love in the "City of Light."  The final segment entitled "14e Arrondissement" ("14th District" - each segment is named for the area in Paris where it occurs) shows an American woman about my age, Carol (played by Margo Martindale), touring Paris on her own.  As she tours the city by herself, she narrates in a poorly-pronounced French voiceover.  The segment was written and directed by Alexander Payne (who also penned the terrific screenplays for such films as Sideways, Election, and About Schmidt), and it truly had me saying "I wish I had written that."

The final image of the film is Carol, sitting by herself on a park bench, regarding all of the lovers and passersby in the Parisian park.  Read her final words above and examine the look in her eyes in a still from the film ... the loneliness, the longing ... and you will know why this has resonated with me for DAYS since I watched the movie.  I understand her ... completely.

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