Sunday, 5th, December, 2021

Review | Under the Paris Stairs

French feature film opens on October 14th

The French drama Under the Steps of Paris (Sous Les Étoiles de Paris), from the director and screenwriter Claus Drexel and starring Catherine Fleet (from hits such as “Marguerite”, “O Reencontro” and “Quem me, me Segue!”), will be released on October 14th exclusively in Brazilian cinemas. With distribution of A2 Movies, in addition to Catherine Frot, the film brings the beautiful streets of the city of Paris as the background to an emotional story starring the French child actor Mahamadou Yaffa (from the series “Je Te Promets”), in addition to Jean-Henri Compère (“The New Testament”), dominique fleet ("Diabolic Women"), Farida Rahouadj (“For Love or For Money?”) and great cast. It is a feature that enchants, but that falls into the cliche of the white hero that could be avoided.

In Under the Paris Stairs we are taken on a tour of the French capital unknown to tourists. It is the Paris of the marginal and excluded who live hidden underground or in makeshift tents on the streets and here, the protagonists live in this underworld. Actress Catherine Frot plays Christine, a lonely beggar, and child actor Mahamadou Yaffa is Suli, the son of a refugee immigrant who was arrested and will be deported to Austria. Here the performances are very well executed and at times they play very deep.

Foto de Mahamadou Yaffa - Sob as escadas de Paris : Foto Catherine Frot,  Mahamadou Yaffa - AdoroCinema
Catherine Frot lives Christine, a lonely beggar and child actor Mahamadou Yaffa is Suli, a small immigrant who loses his mother / Reproduction

Production delivers what it promises. The feeling and message of solidarity that is present at the expense of selfishness is very beautiful, because here and anywhere else in the world, those who do not have enough or almost nothing to survive will not share with others in the same condition. In this case, it is the character Christine who faithfully rejects the presence of the boy who, as in a fairy tale, appears at the door of her hiding place and, unfortunately, she ends up losing her only roof and, like little Suli, starts to wander the Parisian streets . However, realizing that the boy will not be able to survive alone, Christine decides to help him. A maternal instinct (re)surfaces in her and in some flashbacks we see that she is also a mother. Although the film does not delve into what distanced them, the scene of selling the amulet evidences the desire to forget about it.

We can see that the German director Claus Dexel, in his second fictional feature for cinema, was dedicated to delivering competent work and favoring close-ups with a more blurred background, highlighting the protagonists, who are valued in the plot. However, some scenes gain greater prominence due to the boy's emotions looking for his mother, such as the moment when he sees a woman in red that he mistakes for his mother and another scene where three women cross the screen all in black . But the most striking scene is the boy's reunion with his mother and the way Christine contemplates everything behind the glass wall and the absence of sound further accentuates the sensitivity that the moment carries.

Foto de Mahamadou Yaffa - Sob as escadas de Paris : Foto Catherine Frot,  Mahamadou Yaffa - AdoroCinema
Catherine Frot lives Christine, a lonely beggar and child actor Mahamadou Yaffa is Suli, a small immigrant who loses his mother / Reproduction

Speaking of silence, it's something that is present in the film, because initially, Christine doesn't say much and we deduce that it's because she has isolated herself from the rest of the world and then starts to express herself more when the boy appears. Also, Suli doesn't speak French, so the only word we hear from his mouth is “Mama” and then a “merci”. Communication here takes place through looks and gestures and at a specific moment, we realize that Christine is willing, for the first time, to take care of the boy and we see this in the scene where she protects him from the cold.

Although Under the Paris Stairs does not aim to be guided by the cause of immigration, prejudice, etc., the film shows how immigrants suffer prejudice in France. In the opening scenes, a guard mistreats the boy, but in another moment when Suli meets a group of compatriots from Burkina Faso, he feels accepted, welcomed, even though he doesn't know them. And at this point it is interesting to note that he does not denounce the offenses and violence on the part of Parisians, as the direction was precisely to show the refugees inhabiting the city's margins, which in themselves are hard images to behold. However, the fact of putting a white person trying to help a black immigrant boy to find his mother again falls into a cliche that we are commonly used to see as the long Rose and Momo (2020). Even so, it doesn't disappoint, but it could have been more daring.

Thunder Wave note
Under the Paris Stairs is a film that fulfills its mission and does not disappoint. The title in its original version is more poetic and talks in a poetic way with the sad situation shown in the film. As it is a feature based largely on silence, it is a film that talks to our soul and the final scene is one of the best sequences in the feature. Much worth the entertainment.

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