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Revoir Paris – Movie Review

Revoir Paris movie poster

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Some memories are too painful for us to carry day to day. There are compartments in our minds where we store our heaviest memories to protect ourselves from despair. This is especially true for traumatic events—happenings so large there’s no control over our reactions. Some people can move on without remembering, but for others, the answers are a necessity to living. They give people the insight they need to know themselves better to heal wounds and move on emotionally.

In “Revoir Paris,” memory is a mystery to be solved. Mia (Virginie Efira) rides her motorcycle all over Paris, searching for answers about a devastating mass shooting at a local bistro. She was there, and she survived, but she can’t seem to remember how. The opening scenes show Mia going about her life, working on the radio, and spending time with her boyfriend Vincent (Grégoire Colin). But later, she’s alone, writing at the bistro. There’s a birthday being celebrated at a neighboring table. The mood is calm and pleasant. She gets ink on her hands from her fountain pen and goes to the bathroom to wash it off. But before Mia can return to her table, she hears gunfire and screaming. The scene, though brief, is appropriately terrifying—it’s not just what we see but what we don’t see. Director Alice Winocour doesn’t show us where the gunshots are coming from, instead focusing on the panic of the bistro staff and guests. The scene cuts before we can see how exactly Mia survived.

Months later, Mia’s life has not returned to normal. She feels distant from her work and Vincent. And so begins her journey to remember the past to move forward. With determination, Mia tries to get answers about where she ended up during the shooting and what happened to the kind cook who held her hand and comforted her. On her journey, she meets and speaks with other survivors of the attack, all struggling in their own way. One woman accuses Mia of barricading herself in the bathroom, refusing to let anyone else in, which Mia doubts despite being unable to prove it. She meets another survivor, a teenager named Félicia (Nastya Golubeva), and they quickly form a bond. Mia has a very different dynamic with another survivor, a banker named Thomas (Benoît Magimel), who is recuperating in the hospital. These connections all bring Mia comfort and help jog her memory.

“Revoir Paris” has a sensitivity to it, a warm texture despite the abundance of cool blue tones. Its somber visual style of the film is reminiscent of Atom Egoyan’s early work with its quiet, confessional tone and vibrant splashes of color. Much like Egoyan’s “Exotica” and “The Sweet Hereafter,” every character in “Revoir Paris” is connected by grief and sadness. The characters often look forward when speaking or look to the camera, allowing us to witness the emotion on their faces. As the story drifts from person to person, face to face, it all begins to feel dreamlike. The image of Mia on her motorcycle only enhances the feeling that we’re drifting, days and nights blurring together. Sometimes the film shifts perspective to other survivors, narrating their feelings and memories. It’s a very human way to explore trauma, reminding us that Mia is one of many hurting.

As Mia, Efira gives a subdued performance enhanced by her expressive face. Much like her previous starring roles in “Benedetta” and “Sybil,” Efira quietly commands the screen. Golubeva is also a standout as Félicia, a young woman with the maturity that comes from actively overcoming trauma. Additionally, Sofia Lesaffre does so much with her small, pivotal role as Nour, a young woman who still works at the bistro after the shooting. 

“Revoir Paris” is a story about people thrown together, forever changed by their time together. In addition to its emotional resonance, the film highlights Paris’ cultural and economic diversity as we watch Mia interact with people she may have never met. Despite the tragedy, “Revoir Paris” is a hopeful film about the healing power of human connection and mutual comfort. It’s the kind of movie that lingers in the mind long after the credits roll.

In theaters now.

Revoir Paris movie poster

Revoir Paris (2023)

Rated NR

105 minutes

Cast

Virginie Efiraas Mia

Benoît Magimelas Thomas

Grégoire Colinas Vincent

Maya Sansaas Sara

Nastya Golubeva Caraxas Félicia

Amadou Mbowas Assane

Souleymane Touréas Épicier

Director

  • Alice Winocour

Writer

  • Jean-Stéphane Bron
  • Marcia Romano
  • Alice Winocour

Cinematographer

  • Stéphane Fontaine

Editor

  • Julien Lacheray

Composer

  • Anna von Hausswolff

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