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Quirky 'Lost in Paris' gets some laughs but could use more depth

Posted September 1

Fiona Gordon and Dominique Abel in "Lost in Paris." (Deseret Photo)

“LOST IN PARIS” — 2½ stars — Fiona Gordon, Dominique Abel, Emmanuelle Riva, Pierre Richard; not rated; Broadway

“Lost in Paris” is lighthearted and quirky but lacks the substance and depth to make for a fully satisfying experience.

“Lost in Paris” is the comic story of a middle-aged Canadian woman who travels to France to visit her aging aunt. For years, Fiona (Fiona Gordon) has been toiling away at an administrative job in a remote Canadian village, carrying the memory of the day her Aunt Martha (Emmanuelle Riva) set out to live in Paris. One day, she gets a letter from her aunt, who at 88 years old is about to be relocated to a nursing home.

Fiona immediately leaves for Paris, but when she arrives, loaded with an oversize bright red camping pack, Martha refuses to answer the door or pick up her phone — as it turns out, she’s hiding out from the people who are trying to get her into the nursing home. So Fiona sets out to explore the city and, while getting her picture taken on a bridge, promptly falls into the Seine River, losing her backpack and all her belongings.

“Lost in Paris” weaves its comic threads and characters in and out of each other’s lives, and Fiona’s bag is soon recovered by a homeless man named Dom (Dominique Abel). After trying on some of Fiona’s clothes and spending some of her money, Dom eventually encounters the owner of his newfound fortune, and once the pair sort things out, he begins following Fiona around Paris as she tries to find out what happened to her aunt.

What follows is a quirky, distant cousin to a romantic comedy, as Fiona struggles to separate herself from Dom, who has become smitten with the gangly, red-haired Canadian. (Initially, Fiona seems much more interested in a fellow Canadian in town for Mountie training she encounters repeatedly throughout the city.) We also follow Martha as she works to evade her nursing home and gradually gets closer to a reunion with her niece.

The effort, which was also directed by Gordon and Abel, has a definite Wes Anderson vibe, emphasizing dry, off-beat humor, stiff performances and characters that feel just this side of paper dolls. Some of the humor really works, and “Lost in Paris” delivers some clever moments of amusing surprise. But Gordon and Abel’s film also tends to drag in places, making it feel much longer than its brief 83-minute run time.

Part of the problem is that little attention is given to the development of the lead characters, who feel drawn to emphasize their comic quirks more than anything else. Outside of a brief opening flashback where Aunt Martha announces her intentions to young Fiona, we know next to nothing about the people we are watching. That’s not a big deal when they are getting laughs by behaving in broad, amusing strokes, but without the sincere depth of character that marks Anderson’s characters, “Lost in Paris” struggles to ascend beyond a modest level of light charm.

“Lost in Paris” is not rated, but would at least draw a PG-13 for some profanity, vulgarity and a shot of a nude photograph; running time: 83 minutes.

Joshua Terry is a freelance writer and photographer who also teaches English composition for Weber State University. You can also find him on <a href='https://www.youtube.com/moviereviewsbyjosh' target='_blank'>YouTube</a>.

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