Paris Memories [Revoir Paris] — Alliance Française French Film Festival 2023

Review by John P. Harvey.

Coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015 are the preliminaries and the backdrop to Paris Memories.  Mia (Virginie Efira) has stopped for a glass of wine in a restaurant and catches the eye of birthday celebrant Thomas (Benoît Magimel).  As Thomas’s party gets under way, an eruption of gunfire throws everybody into a panic, and only those able to find a hiding place or play possum escape with their lives.

Mia, wounded in the two-hour siege that follows before police rescue the survivors, knows she is lucky to have lived through the ordeal.  And she knows that somebody kept her from panicking.  But even three months later she is unable to recall who he was or exactly what happened.  And she becomes increasingly concerned to know whether he survived the attack.

The film traces Mia’s search for the truth of what occurred, her doubts about her own role in the catastrophe, the obstacles to finding the man who helped her, and her discovery of a tremendous compassion and outpouring of support for the victims and their loved ones.  Essential to her journey are the joint efforts of the survivors to understand and accept the sequence of the night’s events.  Paris Memories concerns courage under fire, certainly; even more, it deals with the integrity and courage necessary to unearth the truth.

Paris Memories is worthy of close study.  Communicating to us her unexpressed thoughts and feelings through facial and bodily mannerisms alone, Efira, as Mia, takes her viewers on a journey that brings home both the bewildering, challenging effects of traumatic memory loss and how the cascading consequences of a single event may lead us to reorder our values and priorities.  And it’s a journey worth the price of immersion.

Screening at Palace cinemas.

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