Les Amants du Pont Neuf
is a film that once more shows us Paris as a city of romance, but from a very different viewpoint than we might expect. The young lovers this time around are Alex and Michelle, two of the many homeless people sleeping rough on the streets of the capital. Their particular abode is the bridge of the title, the oldest such structure in the city, which they share with the older, wiser Hans. Gradually drawn together, they look for and find love in what is a particularly loveless and harsh environment. Director Leos Carax created a film that combined great beauty with an almost nightmarish reality, particularly in a gruesome opening image of a homeless hostel which seems to have a documentary feel to it. Juliette Binoche and Dennis Lavant are superb as the lovers, drawing us in to their world of joy, despair and anger. Ultimately, Les Amants du Pont Neuf
manages to pull off that rare feat of being both visually stunning and emotionally engaging.
On the DVD: Paris may have been filmed countless times before and since, but rarely has its beauty been so captured as here. With the action taking place mainly at night or twilight, the colours are rich and vivid or ghostly pale; both extremes are beautifully captured on this format. Resplendent with many stunning set pieces (noteably the fireworks that light up the city), this is one of the most visually sumptuous films of recent years. Carax, too, makes great use of silence, allowing the sounds of the city to reflect the mood of his characters. Extras are sadly virtually non-existent beyond the usual scene selection and biographies, but the film's style demands that it be seen on the only format to do it justice. --Phil Udell
Alex (Denis Lavant) is a Parisian down-and-out who returns from a homeless shelter to his more regular bed under Paris' oldest bridge, the Pont-Neuf. There he meets Michele (Juliette Binoche), a young painter who is slowly going blind. The pair fall in love, but their happy life together is sure to be disrupted when Michele's past catches up with her. Directed by the controversial Leos Carax, 'Les Amants du Pont Neuf' was, at the time of its release, the most expensive French film ever produced.