Under the stars of Paris, the review: A homeless man, an African child and a fairy tale

The review of Under the Stars of Paris, in cinemas from 25 November, which is the story of the encounter between a mature homeless man and a small African migrant who at times has the poetry of a Charlie Chaplin film.

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Under the stars of Paris: Catherine Frot and Mahamadou Yaffa in a picture

Take this statement with a grain of salt, and make the proper proportions. But there is something Chaplinian in the film that we tell you in review of Under the stars of Paris, the film by Claus Drexel to be released in cinemas from 25 November distributed by Officine Ubu. In the story of the encounter between a mature homeless man and a small African migrant we find at times that poetry, that sense of amazement in the face of life’s cases, that magic that can arise from an encounter. Under the stars of Paris is a fairytale, a film of good feelings, which finds a different key to tell the problem of migration. It is a moving film, but in which emotion seems a little studied at the table.

The woman and the child

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Under the stars of Paris: Catherine Frot and Mahamadou Yaffa in one sequence

Christine (Catherine Frot) has lived on the streets of Paris for years. He found a small, makeshift dwelling with a bed in an atrium under a bridge over the Seine, which leads to the basement. Suddenly a child shows up in front of his shelter. His name is Suli (Mahamadou Yaffa), and he doesn’t speak his language. His clothes are wet, and Christine takes them off, to dry them, covering him with her sweater. In those clothes he finds a photo and documents, and realizes that he has been separated from his mother, who must be repatriated. At first reluctant to take care of the child, the woman ends up accompanying him on a journey to find his mother.

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A fairy tale, like Miracle in Le Havre

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Under the stars of Paris: Catherine Frot in a sequence

One of the merits of Under the Stars of Paris is the simplicity, the candor with which it manages to tell a hard story. It is a sad story, but told in a way that leaves a shred of hope, of trust in solidarity, in humanity. After all, Claus Drexel’s film is a fairy tale. And the way he reinterprets the problem of migration in this key, he reminded us of Miracle in Le Havre by Aki Kaurismäki. Fairytale yes, but never forgetting what it is telling.

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Under the stars of Paris: Mahamadou Yaffa in an image

Widen your gaze

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Under the stars of Paris: Mahamadou Yaffa in a scene from the film

There is a point, in fact, in the second part of the film, where the woman and the child leave the center of Paris for their research. And, suddenly, while they are being driven by another good soul, they see reality moving around a temporary holding center. At that moment the film becomes more tragic, more realistic. It is as if the gaze opens up, gets wider, and includes the thousands of migrants. We have seen the story of Suli, we have been anxious for him. But like him there are many, many people.

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The Charlie Chaplin from Il monello

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Under the stars of Paris: Mahamadou Yaffa in one scene

Until that moment, as we told you at the beginning, Under the stars of Paris is a film that recalls the Charlie Chaplin of Il brello. For the light and suspended tone, for the grace with which the two move, for the sense of the encounter between two solitudes. And also because, for the first few stretches, it could also be a silent film. Because Christine is alone. And why at first she and Suli don’t understand each other. Even the gags that distinguish the meeting between the two, when they include the words, are elementary: moi-là says she pointing to herself, toi-là pointing to him, to say that he must stay in his place. Moilà is the name Suli gives to Christine, because he believes she is telling him her name. They are little touches of humor that make a very intense story lighter.

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Under the stars of Paris: Catherine Frot and Mahamadou Yaffa in a scene from the film

A somewhat constructed emotion

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Under the stars of Paris: Catherine Frot in a picture

There is only one doubt that comes to us in front of the vision of what is undoubtedly a good film. It is as if the emotion, which arrives, but not immediately, is a little built at the table. The homeless, the migrants, the light tone. It is as if everything is plugged into an automatic good feeling generator. As we have said, it is a fairy tale, but it seems to us that it is a somewhat studied recipe, a desire to put all the pieces in their place to create a story that can please everyone, even make us think, but also playing it safe, without risk anything.

That kaleidoscope …

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Under the stars of Paris: Catherine Frot in a scene from the film

However, Drexel’s film has the pleasure of flying low, of working on the essential, on simplicity. The direction is not invasive and never the protagonist, it leaves room for the two protagonists and their story (even Christine’s backstory is outlined with a few images). In a story that almost always remains close to the two protagonists there is a small gimmick, but worthy of note. It is the kaleidoscope that Christina gives to Suli. And it is a choice full of meaning. In addition to being a tribute to cinema, of which the kaleidoscope, as a moving image, is an ancestor, it is something that has to do with history. The kaleidoscope is an instrument that, through a system of lenses, manages to take reality and modify it, to create a new one. And that’s basically what Suli, and thousands of others like him, dreams of doing.

Conclusions

In the review of Under the Stars of Paris we told you about a fairytale, a film of good feelings, which finds a different key to tell the problem of migration. It is a moving film, but in which emotion seems a little studied at the table.

Because we like it

  • The idea of ​​treating the problem of migration from another point of view, like a fairy tale.
  • The interpretation of the two main actors.
  • The tone, light but not too much, which is somewhat reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin.

What’s wrong

  • The story is moving, but perhaps not as much as it should.
  • It seems to us that the emotion is a little studied at the table.

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