CRITICISM / FILM OPINION – Edouard Baer brings together artists at La Closerie des Lilas for a boosted meal in “Adieu Paris”. A comedy punctuated by the energy of its actors and its delightful dialogues, but tinged with a melancholy that ends up taking precedence.
Farewell Paris : the meeting of artists
The opening ofFarewell Paris hopes for a heated meeting. In a Parisian street, Benoît (Benoît Poelvoorde) rejoices with his partner Isabelle (Isabelle Nanty) to be able to attend a lunch with artists he admires.
Delighted to be integrated into this group, Benoît is disillusioned when he is coldly welcomed by his peers at La Closerie des Lilas after a whirlwind arrival. However, he refuses to leave and observes with frustration, seated at the bar, the annual reunion between these writers, actors, directors and other sculptors.
However, on closer inspection, things do not seem so simple for Alain (Jackie Berroyer), Jacques (Pierre Arditi), Enzo (Bernard Murat), Pierre-Henry (Bernard Le Coq), Bertrand ( Daniel Prévost) and Louki (François Damiens), the latest to join the group. During this meal that drags on, cracks are revealed in friendships. For some, the urge to engage in long discussions has dissipated as they get older, while others find that their power of seduction has withered over time.
too old friends
Before lunch spins, a few elements suggest that the tape is already dead, as soon as some of its members wonder about its raison d’être. Jackie Berroyer, extremely touching in his tired acting and his lucidity, wonders if he really wants to go to this meeting. Gérard Depardieu continues to delay his arrivalpreferring to avoid social events at the start.
Signs of the disintegration of a group evoking those formed in particular by Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Rochefort and Jean-Pierre Marielle, memories of a Paris that has almost disappeared according to Édouard Baer. However, the director and actor does not treat this collapse with nostalgia.
Farewell Paris don’t throw not a moved look at the past, which he could have done without the slightest difficulty thanks to a cast that represents a whole section of French-speaking cinema and theatre. The feature film prefers to draw up the observation of a rather ugly, rather dull and depressing present, used wonderfully to chain the fierce and hilarious dialogues. Refusing hypocrisy and false politeness, Daniel Prévost goes wild for example as soon as he enters La Closerie des Lilas and then throughout the film, not hesitating to remind his interlocutors, who have taken refuge behind their egos, that they are no more than a shadow of themselves.
When melancholy gets involved
Edouard Baer was partly inspired by the opening ofHusbands by John Cassavetes to capture the energy of a meal and the absence of temporal markers. In this superb intro, three friends get drunk after the death of their fourth band member. In Farewell Paris, the glasses of wine follow one another but drunkenness fades awayonce the joy of the reunion had subsided.
Sourness and melancholy take over and end up dislocating the band. The owner of the restaurant embodied by the late Jean-François Stévenin is sad because no one has noticed the fact that he cut his mustache. Jackie Berroyer prefers to chat with the cooks. Bernard Murat and François Damiens end up arguing over the money. Always in his corner, Benoît Poelvoorde realizes that he passes for an idiot. Finally, Yoshi, the artist played by Yoshi Oida in whose honor the lunch is held, falls asleep.
The interludes centered each time on a different character multiply and lock them more and more in their solitude. Farewell Paris lasts about 1h30 but manages to convince the viewer through ellipses and sometimes abrupt cuts that the meal lasted too long. When it’s time to leave the table, disarray, the feeling of being muddy and the return to reality invade the screen.
Aging is grotesque, but less so than clinging to a past that only exists in too vague memories, the film seems to say. A bitter observation and in perfect adequacy with our time full of changes. Perhaps the healthiest solution is not to go to lunch, like Gérard Depardieu. But in this case, the viewer would have missed something.
Farewell Paris by Edouard Baer, in theaters on January 26, 2022. Above the trailer. Find all the…