09th Sep2020

Fantasia 2020: ‘A Mermaid In Paris’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Nicolas Duvauchelle, Marilyn Lima, Romane Bohringer, Rossy De Palma, Tchéky Karyo | Written by Stéphane Landowski, Mathias Malzieu | Directed by Mathias Malzieu

If you follow me on Twitter or know me at all, you probably know that I’m not really a fan of romantic movies. That’s not to say I hate them, I’m just very choosy about which ones I watch because I know I’m not going to like the majority of them… However by being part of the Fantasia Festival meant that I would give A Mermaid In Paris a chance. I know the festival is full of original and entertaining films, and this one looked no different.

In it, we see Gaspard (Nicolas Duvauchelle) save an injured mermaid, Lula (Marilyn Lima) and take her to his home to his bath tub to heal. Gaspard has had his heartbroken on too many occasions and believes he will never love again, while every man that falls in love with Lula ends up dying of an exploding heart. We soon see him fall in love with the mermaid but he seems to be immune to her ‘powers’ as she also slowly falls in love with him.

A Mermaid In Paris comes across very French. France is not a country I have visited very often, or for any length of time, but the movie has this unique style that seems to represent the country that made it well. It is full of bright colours, picture perfect locations and characters that have styled hair and beards and distinct fashion. And because of all this the film not only looks great and has it’s own unique feel to every moment. That’s even ignoring that it features a mermaid. I loved the small use of animation throughout (this is the directors first live action movie) that somehow felt perfectly in place.

There’s a side story of sorts that covers the wife of a man who died because of Lula, which feels a little tacked on but it’s a small complaint and never feels like it takes up too much time.

The mermaid actually doesn’t come across as an outrageous or silly part of the story. Everything is very grounded in this colourful world it is set in. The human/creature lead has an obvious influence in Guillero del Toro’s The Shape of Water, and while it feels like a slightly lay comparison, it’s also a fair one. But this is still a highly original movie in its own right.

Duvauchelle in the lead is handsome and charismatic but also plays the character in a way that makes him not only sympathetic but very relatable too. While Lima as the mermaid looks exactly how the blonde cartoon mermaid people envision. She, like Gaspard is super likeable and you can’t help but smile and enjoy watching their relationship develop.

Fantasia Festival has given me the chance to watch several films this year that have just put a big grin on my face. Films that make you think, despite how 2020 has turned out so far, life will be alright. A Mermaid In Paris is full of romance and love but it is shown in a way that is unlike many other movies. It’s fantastical but heart-warming while making you believe that there is someone out there for everyone.

**** 4/5

A Mermaid In Paris screend as part of this years Fantasia Festival, which took place Aug 20th – Sept 2nd 2020.


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