A MERMAID IN PARIS (Une Sirene a Paris), directed by Mathias Malzieu, is an absolute feast for the mind and the soul. Like a glorious love child of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Guillermo del Toro, with influences from Splash, Coraline, and the works of Wes Anderson, colors and atmosphere and smoke and sparkles blend together to create something miraculous, strange, and beautiful.

Gaspard (Nicolas Devauchelle) is through with love. He’s had his heart broken too many times, and as far as he’s concerned, he’s immune. In spite of urgings from his father Camille (Tcheky Karyo) and his overly confident and flirtatious neighbor Rossy (Rossy De Palma), Gaspard has given it up, and has given in to being a rollerskating troubadour bachelor. His bloodline is strong – His grandmother opened the club Flowerburger in her prime, and with it began a secret society called “The Surprisers”. A secret society, whose members “live only for wonder and panache”, who do things “for the beauty of it, and the spirit of adventure”, Gaspard and his hardened heart don’t quite fit the Surprisers modus operandi. That is, until Gaspard meets an injured mermaid, Lula (Marilyn Lima), and he takes her home to nurse her to health.

Lula is, understandably, worried. She’s already killed one poor soul with her siren song – Victor (Alexis Michalik), a young man just starting his life with his beautiful (and possibly pregnant) girlfriend, Milena (Romane Bohringer). All told, she’s probably killed several dozen men … or 43, or 44, as she tells Gaspard. He laughs, bitterly, saying he’s probably had around the same number of girlfriends. He is immune to her call. Or, at least, that’s what he continues to tell her… and himself. The clock, however, is not on their side, as Lula cannot be away from the ocean, and Gaspard has pangs similar to what Victor experienced before his death. Even if their own biological differences weren’t fighting them, Milena is on the warpath to find the siren that took her Victor from her, and with very little time left, Gaspard and Lula decide to have a farewell party and go out with a bang.

The pervasive energy of A MERMAID IN PARIS is sweet, but never cloying or over the top. In an unexpected surprise, there’s never too much conflict, and it never is as frustrating as one might imagine from the stage I just set with that synopsis. Small moments of peril are quickly resolved, and brushes with heartache are soothed by something profoundly moving, and sincere. The emotion behind this film is palpable, and moved me to tears over the sheer beauty of the film more than once. This is a remarkable film, filled with wonder and heart.

A MERMAID IN PARIS speaks to the Surprisers out there in the world – the believers, the wonderers. The music makers, and dreamers of dreams, as O’Shaughnessy wrote (and Wonka plagiarized). A truly sumptuous love story that brings a simple and often retold Mermaid and Human love story to fantastic heights, reminiscent of Shape of Water and Amelie rolled into one. There is a golden glitter about A MERMAID IN PARIS – a fairy dance and a raunchy romantic spectacle all in one. There is an atmosphere and aesthetic to this film that is unique to its very core, while harkening to the great films and stories of yore. A filmic feast, with something sweet or savory to satisfy every palette.

A MERMAID IN PARIS made its North American premiere at Fantasia International Film Festival on August 27th, 2020.

7/10 stars

The Honeymoon Phase 
RATING:NR
Runtime:1 Hr. 28 Mins.
Directed By:
Stephane Landowsky, Mathias Malzieu
Written By:
PMathias Malzieu