One of the original critics turned filmmakers who helped jump-start the French New Wave, Jacques Rivette’s Paris Belongs to Us follows a young literature student who befriends the members of a loose-knit group of twentysomethings in Paris, united by the apparent suicide of an acquaintance.
This film is not currently playing on MUBI but 30 other great films are. See what's now showing
“Everything is interconnected”, points out Anne, the protagonist in “mystical crisis”, about Shakepeare's Pericles. Like a snakes-and-ladders game in the form of film, Rivette's first feature mixes, in several cyphered signs of visual and sound, the conspiracies and mysteries, secrecy and lies, love and death, theatre and cinema — all in literal and figured labyrinths, between the truth or lie of fiction itself.
Maybe I've never seen a film ending as strangely, or in such a quietly terrifying way as in Paris Nous Appartient. I ask myself how it is that Hitchcock or Melville in decades of making mystery films never created a scene quite as mystifying.
The first Rivette, and already the arcane conspiracies, the performances, the rooftop wanderings (as tribute to Feuillade) and the image of Paris as an eternal playground, or labyrinth of dreams. In the end, the tension between playful scenes of interaction and the threat of some likely cataclysmic event creates a feeling of sustained suspense, suggestive of the final moments of Antonioni's subsequent L'eclisse...
Of the many later Rivettes anticipated by this early land-grab, Paris Belongs to Us, albeit conventional by comparison, felt to me (and it's just a feeling, unfocused by any analysis) most like Le Pont du Nord. Multivalent mazes that double as their own maps, both films are strangely gripping, spellbinding even, while also evincing elements of deep play; as, I suppose, any serious mystery must. A many-marveled debut.
Paris belongs to us. Paris belongs to no one. Should seem obvious at this point that you don't get to discuss youth and radicality in the 60s without discussing serious attempts to establish new groups and new psychosocial formations in relation to groups. Rivette was really the only great filmmaker of the groupuscule until Godard came along w/ La Chinoise. No other new wave director began nearly as socially radical.
I saw myself on Anne for particular reasons, that's made me love this film. And there's that brand new air of the french cinema. It's one of those movies that you don't know how to explain why you loved.
Pascal Bonitzer's theory on de-framing (décadrage) finds here one of its defining examples: as on Straub or Rouch, the un-centered compositions aren't pictorial, but reinforcements of the borders as a limit - a tool used on narrative purposes such as the threats that are always invisible (for us and for the characters), outside of the frame.