If you’re in the mood to be charmed by an old school, lighthearted, romantic comedy, Rene Clair’s Sous les toits de Paris (1930) is the film for you. The plot follows two working class Parisians engaging in a fickle love affair that is highlighted by cute French songs, sweeping shots of Paris streets, and some hilarious childish bickering.
The music of the film is quick and optimistic, an important indication to follow considering the characters rarely speak. Although Sous les toits de Paris isn’t exactly a silent film, don’t expect witty dialogue. For the non-French speakers in the house, this means that you don’t have to worry about reading subtitles the whole time. Rather, the body language and music will tell you all you need to know about love, working class-solidarity, and how to be scam on multiple prospects.
The breathtaking shots of the Paris skyline made me want to use all my paychecks to get on a plane to Paris. If you’ve never been to Paris, this film will make you fall in love with it. If you already have been to Paris, this film will show you how Clair could turn it upside-down and make it the most poetic city in the world, circa 1930.
The fighting in the film is awesome. Pola, the leading woman, pretty much owns in every single argument. She’s a little firecracker and she’s not afraid to slap around her men a little. This film has been discussed as a subtly interesting cue to changing gender roles during the Great Depression. Sous les toits de Paris specifically depicts women in a light that challenges traditional perceptions of women as prude and obedient. That’s right ladies, Pola is holdin’ it down and using that girl power.
Albert and Pola’s humorously erratic courtship is arguably one of the most memorable and endearing elements of Sous les toits de Paris. The film’s style laid down the groundwork for many romantic comedies, so if you like stuff like When Harry Met Sally then you might just like Sous les toits de Paris. Also, each frame utilizes the characters, furniture, and landscape to convey the genius of Clair’s work. Don’t miss out on his unique style that has forever left his name in film history books. It’s a fun film that isn’t too corny to share with your friends who don’t even like romance.
*Sous les toits de Paris photo via: lib.verycd.com
*Claire photo via: http://filmsdefrance.com/