TIFF 2015 Review: Parisienne
The title of Esther Arbid’s new film brings a sense of irony with it, because the main character of Lina (Manal Issa) is very much not a Parsienne, because of her status as an immigrant from Lebanon.
The original French title Peur de Rien (Afraid of Nothing) works slightly better, but even then, this concept feels more like an ideal rather than a reality for Lina, who seems to actually be afraid of quite a lot, (and who wouldn’t, considering that upon her arrival with an uncle, he immediately tries to seduce her).
And so, Lina plunges headlong into the world of Paris, occasionally succumbing to the wrong choices, occasionally letting others try to make the choices for her. But along the way, she meets a number of potential suitors, all with their own caveats, and this is as much a universal story as one of a specific woman’s experience.
The only trouble with Parisienne is that clearly Lina is the heroine, but is reactionary more than anything else. The Parisienne society at large seems to blame, and perhaps Lina is specifically a victim of circumstance rather than the architect of her own design. For the story to feel fully fleshed out, it would have also been preferable for Lina to be able to fight back against injustice using a more active sensibility. The reason that she seems not to be a part of the society may go past simply her outsider status.