Paris Nous Appartient

Jacques Rivette's totemic work of the French New Wave comes to Blu-ray

Film Review by Barry Didcock | 28 Sep 2018
Film title: Paris Nous Appartient
Director: Jacques Rivette
Starring: Betty Schneider, Giani Esposito, Françoise Prévost, Daniel Crohem, François Maistre, Jean-Claude Brialy
Release date: 24 Sep
Certificate: 12

Although not released until 1961, by which time Claude Chabrol, Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut had all stepped on to the stage with their brilliant debuts, Jacques Rivette began his film in 1957, making it (arguably) the first of the French New Wave. Its reputation as one of the movement’s totemic works doesn’t rely on that fact, but it certainly helps. Still, Rivette is an acquired taste. His 13-hour 1971 film Out 1 would test anyone’s endurance, but even more accessible later works, such as 1991’s La Belle Noiseuse, come with lengthy running times (a shade under four hours in its case).

Paris Nous Appartient clocks in at 142 minutes and turns on the death of a character we never meet – guitarist Juan, an exile from Franco’s Spain – and the efforts made by young student Anne (Schneider) to uncover the reasons for his death and the manner of it: did he die by his own hand or was he murdered as part of some shady political plot? She also wants to find a recording he made so it can be used by theatre director Gérard (Esposito) in a production of Shakespeare’s Pericles (theatre rehearsals are a favoured motif for Rivette: see Out 1, 1969’s L’Amour Fou and 1984’s Love on the Ground).

Mostly Anne’s quest involves her walking around Paris in the company of Gérard, her brother Pierre (Maistre), childhood friend Jean-Marc (Brialy), or Philip (Crohem), a hard-drinking American exile from McCarthyism. Everyone smokes and, Anne aside, everyone displays paranoia, cynicism and nihilism, albeit in differing proportions. In other words, Rivette’s Parisians are typical of the Left Bank intellectuals of the time and it’s that scene and that worldview that he immortalises so brilliantly in Paris Nous Appertient. That fact that Godard, Chabrol and Jacques Demy all have cameos is just the icing on the cake.


There’s an illuminating (but old) interview with critic Jonathan Romney, a new commentary from fellow critic Adrian Martin and Rivette’s 1957 short Le Coup du Berger, co-written with Chabrol and featuring him, Godard and Truffaut in cameos.


Out now from BFI; certificate 12