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Film Review: “Revoir Paris” Heals the Soul

Written by: Christopher Llewellyn Reed | June 22nd, 2023

Film poster: “Revoir Paris”

Revoir Paris (Alice Winocour, 2022) 3½ out of 4 stars.

The November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, France, came as a shock to a nation that was by no means new to grief. Earlier that same year, the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo were the site of equally horrendous violence. In her latest film, Revoir Paris, French director Alice Winocour (Proxima) uses that historical backdrop to examine trauma and recovery among survivors, exploring the importance of human connection and shared experience as aids to healing.

Virginie Efira (Other People’s Children) stars as Mia, who works as an interpreter (from Russian to French) on the radio. Her domestic partner, Vincent (Grégoire Colin, Both Sides of the Blade), is a doctor, and one night, as they enjoy a romantic dinner, he is called back to the hospital, leaving her alone for the evening. Caught on her motorcycle in a sudden rainstorm, Mia stops at a different restaurant on her way home to enjoy a glass of wine. Drink consumed, she prepares to leave. That’s when the first shots are fired.

l-r: Benoît Magimel and Virginie Efira in REVOIR PARIS ©Music Box Films

We’ll revisit this scene over and over as Mia later tries to reconstruct her shattered memories. She and the others who made it through the night—many with physical injuries, all with some kind of PTSD—struggle in the aftermath, desperate to return to the people they were before and unable to do so. Some, like Mia, decide that there is no going back. The future will never be the same.

Through encounters with members of a survivor support group, including Thomas (Benoît Magimel, The Flower of Evil)—a man who remembers far more than Mia does—our protagonist attempts to find her way to a full recollection of the experience. Along the way, she uncovers a memory of someone who helped her that fateful night, and spends much of the rest of the movie trying to locate him. Both spiritual and physical journeys intertwine in a search for truth.

Virginie Efira in REVOIR PARIS ©Music Box Films

Efira delivers a riveting performance, holding far more inside than she lets out, even as she occasionally breaks down in unavoidable tears. Her emotional restraint impresses, given the harsh realities of the narrative. Many flickering thoughts and feelings register through behavior, though she also keeps a wealth of mysteries within. As strong as the ensemble may be (and it is filled with great actors), this is very much Efira’s movie. She holds the center, through and through.

Winocour—whose own brother, Jérémie (to whom she dedicates the film), survived the real-world attacks—is never concerned with the why and how of what happened. Her cinematic eye is squarely on the way in which damaged souls mend their broken hearts and minds. It’s a marvelous study of a vital topic, anchored by a brilliant actress.

l-r: Virginie Efira and Benoît Magimel in REVOIR PARIS ©Music Box Films

Christopher Llewellyn Reed is a film critic, filmmaker, and educator, as well as Film Festival Today's Editor. A member of both the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, Chris is, in addition, lead film critic at Hammer to Nail and the author of Film Editing: Theory and Practice.

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