While France has the largest Jewish population in Europe, 2014 has not been a banner year for her to boast of liberté, égalité, and fraternité.
The conflict between Israel and Gaza produced violent demonstrations, and acts of violence against Jews not seen since the time of Hitler’s occupation. As a result, more Jews have fled France for Israel than ever before.
Contributing to the anti-Semitic atmosphere has been the controversy surrounding the half French, half Cameroonian comique (sic) Dieudonné.
He began his career as half of a comedy duo with the Jewish comedian Élie Semoun, but since going solo, his act has become less about entertainment and more about inciting hatred. An English journalist compares him to Louis Farrakhan, a name that is in no way associated with comedy.
Earlier this year, his performances were cancelled by mayors town by town as he toured the country.
He has broadened his attacks beyond the Jewish population. After the first beheading of a western journalist by ISIS, he stated: “I think decapitation symbolizes, before anything, progress, access to civilization.”
So, to see a movie come from France about a charming love story about a nice Jewish girl falling in love is more than a divertissement, it is an exultance- that movie is Paris-Manhattan, released on DVD this week.
Alice (Alice Taglioni) has taken over her father’s pharmacy. She is obsessed with Woody Allen, in a way that only the French are, and has remained unmarried because no schlub has come by to strike her fancy. Victor (singing star/actor Patrick Bruel) is no Woody Allen, so Alice refuses to settle.
While it’s a predictable plot, it has a few surprises along the way -check the credits if you want a spoiler- and Paris has never looked more beautiful in a French movie.
Vive la France! L’Chaim!