Paris 36 review

French nostalgia lacks spark

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Wreathed in Gauloises smoke, gangsters and accordion-toting urchins, this solid, well-played and unabashedly sentimental ’30s-set music-hall melodrama is the kind of handsomely-mounted nostalgic crowd-pleaser that the French New Wavers thought they’d squashed in the ’60s.

Centred on a group of unemployed Paris stagehands rescuing their threatened theatre by occupying it, director Christian Barratier’s luscious tale has all the feelgood hallmarks of his all-heart 2004 smash hit The Chorus, as Gérard Jugnot’s appealing hero Pigoil battles his runaway wife and a crooked landlord to try to regain his livelihood.

Yet, lacking the vital quirkiness of Amélie, and saddled with banal if perky musical numbers, it soon feels predictable despite tip-top ensemble
playing and Tom (Changeling) Stern’s sweeping cinematography.

Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be…

Kate Stables

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