FANTASIA FEST 2020: ‘A Mermaid in Paris’

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A Mermaid in Paris

When we are young, we cut our teeth on simple and fantastical stories. Our love of storytelling and escaping into a beautiful, imagined world is built on a foundation of mermaids, magic, and true love’s kiss. A Mermaid in Paris is a stunning return to the building blocks of fantasy and escapism. If the purpose of film is to hold us captive for a few hours and transport us by way of our imagination, then A Mermaid in Paris is the purest ambassador of that mission.

A Mermaid in Paris is an official 2020 selection of the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The film will enjoy its North American Premiere at the fest, which has gone online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A Mermaid in Paris is directed by Mathias Malzieu and stars Nicolas Duvauchelle, Marilyn Lima, and Rossy de Palma.

Gaspard (Duvauchelle), a young singer, is gloomy and lonely despite living in the City of Lights and being surrounded by fantasy and beauty at the imaginative cabaret his family owns. He is suffering from a broken heart and finds little joy in life. That all changes one day when he discovers Lula (Lima), a beautiful mermaid, injured on a quay of the Seine. He rescues her and begins to nurse her back to health. The song of a mermaid is deadly to mortal men, but Lula and Gaspard form an unlikely romance as they must battle against time and hidden enemies in order to be together.

A Mermaid in Paris is an absolute fantasy! Every shot, every moment is a dreamy vignette. The film takes a lot of its inspiration from classical storytelling, especially pop up books and fantastical illustrations, and the result is impossibly rich sets, gorgeous color splashed across the entire world, and characters that call to the familiar heroes of childhood. In a rare and striking combination, A Mermaid in Paris feels fresh and modern and beautiful while evoking the nostalgic feeling of being young and totally engrossed in a fairytale. It’s perfect escapism and simply dazzling.

The love story at the center of A Mermaid in Paris is refreshingly chaste and pure. It falls well within form of the classic fairytale model, making A Mermaid in Paris a beguiling and fairly family-friendly option. It’s a classic in the making that could feel right at home alongside the great romances, like Romeo and Juliet.

On the whole, A Mermaid in Paris is uplifting and quite funny. For all of the style of the film’s distinct aesthetic, there is more than enough substance for lovestruck viewers to sink their teeth into. Beyond the endearing, if not minimalist love story is a meditation on art and the heart that any film lover will gobble up like candy. The humor and whimsy of the film is perfectly balanced with the danger that looms for our lovers. The writing in the film is sublime, to say the least.

A Mermaid in Paris is elegant and timeless in structure and effortlessly executed by a phenomenal cast. Rossy de Palma, especially, chews the scenery to bits and steals the show in every scene. Well done. When pondering this film, there was one phrase that kept turning over in my mind. “Panache is the heart of the matter, ma chérie.”

It’s a wonderful thing when the film hands you the perfect words for summarizing its triumph. A Mermaid in Paris is bursting at the seams with panache. It’s a temple to passion and flamboyance and beauty. It’s overflowing with heart. In the muted loneliness of the current time (and within the confines of an equally lonely virtual film fest), A Mermaid in Paris makes the heart skip a beat.  I invite you to fall in love with A Mermaid in Paris.

A Mermaid in Paris will enjoy its North American Premiere at the 2020 Fantasia International Film Festival on Thursday, August 27 at 7:15pm EST. The film will screen again at the festival on Sunday, August 30.

A Mermaid in Paris
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

It’s a wonderful thing when the film hands you the perfect words for summarizing its triumph. A Mermaid in Paris is bursting at the seams with panache. It’s a temple to passion and flamboyance and beauty. It’s overflowing with heart. In the muted loneliness of the current time (and within the confines of an equally lonely virtual film fest), A Mermaid in Paris makes the heart skip a beat.  I invite you to fall in love with A Mermaid in Paris.