A Mermaid in Paris (Une sirène à Paris) (2020) [Fantasia Fest 2020]

In a fairy tale-like version of Paris, a man who works at a very particular bar finds and saves a mermaid. As he takes care of her, he slowly falls for her, which could very well be his downfall.

Based on a book by Mathias Malzieu, the film is co-written by Malzieu and Stéphane Landowski with Malzieu directing. The closeness to the story of the co-screenwriter/director most likely works in favor of the film as it is magnificent and offers a view into the story that is just about perfect. Having not read the book (yet), it is hard to compare, but having seen the film, its quality and how the story is brought to life show that it has to be a great adaptation. The film here is colorful, fun, touching, lovely, full of love, and filled with characters that are charming as well as intriguing. This is the kind of modern fairytales that are more seen enough in current cinema. It’s something that brings to mind both Le Fabuleux Destin D’Amelie Poulain and The Lure at the same time. It very much feels like it may just be their soul love child.

The acting in the film really brings it home with the right level of sweetness, vulnerability, and intent. It’s the kind of acting you expect in any film of this level, no matter the level of experience the people behind and in front of the camera have. The cast here is fantastic with lead performances by Nicolas Duvauchelle as Gaspard and Marilyn Lima as Lula the mermaid that are just so good, it’s hard to describe without sounding overly fan girl. There is something about their work here that is perfect and will make you fall in love with them. Also more than worth noting are Rossy de Palma as Rossy and Tchéky Karyo (who we don’t see enough of lately) as Camille. The cast in this film is on point on point, like perfect in every way. They work their parts like magic and elevate the film and its story even more.

Another great factor to this film is from the visual aspect. The film has everything on point, down to a science, from the cinematography by Virginie Saint-Martin to the production design by André Fonsny to the special effects (hello, that tail!) to the costume design and everything else that makes it on screen, this film is a meticulously planned, designed, and achieved piece of beauty.

Une sirène à Paris not only has one of the best stories in a while with some of the best performances put together for a fairy tale-like film, it also has a look all of its own that pulls the viewer in and makes them part of the film, part of the story, and part of the love.

The Fantasia International Film Festival runs every year, and this year runs virtually from August 20th until September 2nd.