Paris, 13th | UNCUT

Usually associated with crime-related dramas (a prophet, The beat that my heart skipped, Dheepan), writer-director Jacques Audiard was the most coherent contemporary author of French cinema. But he recently took a side step with an English western, The brothers sisters, and for his latest movie, he’s trying something different again. The French title is The Olympiads – after a skyscraper project in the 13th arrondissement south of Paris which serves as the setting for the film.

It is a comedy-drama about 21st century sexual and social mores, set among young local residents. Emilie (played by formidable newcomer #1, Lucia Zhang) comes from a Taiwanese immigrant family, enjoying the single life but hating her boring telesales job. Camille (equally great newcomer No 2, Makita Samba) is a literature teacher who becomes Emilie’s unattached lover when he responds to his roommate’s ad. Norah (Noemie Merlantfrom Portrait of a lady on fire) is a Sorbonne student whose life is turned upside down when she is mistaken for online sex worker “Amber Sweet” – played in a blonde wig and big tattoos by Jehnny Beth of the Savages. Shot in diamond-hard black and white and edited at a brisk, sometimes euphoric pace, The Olympiads reimagines the classic Parisian drama of crossover love for a new multiracial generation more familiar with Tinder and cam sex than the old romantic codes of mad love.

Based – somewhat loosely – on three stories by an American graphic novelist Adrian Tomineand co-written for the screen by Little mom and Celine Sciamma of Girlhoodit’s at Audiard the most feminine film to date. Its coincidences and tangled fates aren’t always entirely convincing, but it’s a joyous and cold outburst all the same.

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