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French lessons in A Paris Education

13 February, 2020 — By Dan Carrier

Andranic Manet in A Paris Education

A PARIS EDUCATION
Directed by Jean-Paul Civeyrac
Certificate 15
☆☆☆☆

OH to be young – and without knowing it, carefree: this French movie deals with the trials and tribulations of being a student, of moving to a big city, of trying to find your artistic voice – and, without meaning to, plays to the idea that the joy of youth is indeed wasted on young people.

Étienne Tinan (Andranic Manet) is the handsome long-haired wannabe filmmaker from Lyon. He has a deep unconscious sense that he has outgrown his home town – and his beautiful and loyal girlfriend (Diane Rouxel). He ups sticks to head to Paris, where he has enrolled into a film school.

Every possible cliché you could cook up about a Parisian students’ Bohemian lifestyle seems to ring true for this chain-smoking, wine-swilling, film-philosophising, women-snogging young man – he dives head first into a new city that he finds excitingly scary through its sheer size, and the vast opportunities he is presented with to explore own artistic abilities.

He meets fellow students Mathias (Corentin Fila) and Jean-Noël (Gonzague Van Bervesseles), foils with whom to chat about high-brow topics such as Bach, Baudelaire and Marlen Khutsiev.

Rammed with filmophile ponderings and set-tos of an intellectual nature, the burden of being a fly on the wall to such meandering and heavy conversations is offset by the believability of the performances, and the marvellous accompanying soundtrack of Bach.

Tensions between the three act as spurs to their film-making – but when Etienne meets Annabelle (Sophie Verbeeck) he begins to look at his art through a more political prism.

Director Civeyrac has created something akin to autobiography – he is from Lyon and headed to Paris to study philosophy before turning to film. He has spent 30 years teaching film students and it means the material, conversations and portrayal of their experiences as they face the challenges of living in a big city, coming to terms with adulthood, and trying to understand the art they are creating rings true rather than pompous or pretentious.

Above all, there is something rather painfully delightful about peering into this world – while the students’ self-assuredness mixed with angst is at times galling, it is so well observed and beautifully shot that their inability to recognise their good fortune to be young, free with study being the only claim on their time is all rather charming.

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