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aka - Estonienne À Paris, Une
France/Belgium/Estonia 2012
Directed by
Ilmar Raag
94 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Lady In Paris, A

Synopsis: After the death of her aged mother, an Estonian woman (Laine Mägi) comes to Paris to care for Frida (Jeanne Moreau), an elderly Estonian lady who emigrated to France long ago.

Adding to the significant number of  “seniors’’ films that now regularly grace our screens, A Lady In Paris is a slow-moving (appropriately so as it is focused on the octogenarian Moreau) and low-key story of the relationship between two women – the abrasively willful Frida and her put-upon carer Anne, with a sub-plot involving middle-aged bar owner Stéphane (Pineau) who hired Anne and is Frida’s only friend.  

After the film’s strikingly chilly opening in Anne’s snowbound hometown of Tallinn in Estonia it acquires a little too easily the conventional features of mainstream French film – Frida’s elegant lifestyle, Stéphane’s busy café, seductively touristic images of the City of Lights and so on. Whilst this is somewhat justified by the film’s original French title, Une Estonienne à Paris, the women's Estonian "outsider" identities being an important part of the context of their relationship, it means that despite its downbeat subject matter Raag's film remains resolutely tasteful and lacks the candour and dramatic heft of Michael Haneke’s Amour from last year. Which, depending on your inclinations, may well be a good thing.

As is the case with European film the focus is on character rather than plot, and interior states rather than action and the performances are the core of the film. In this respect all three actors deliver, with the 85 year old Moreau en pleine forme.




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