After her brother survived the 2015 Bataclan attacks, writer/filmmaker Alice Winocour wanted to make a film about that experience. Several years later, her Revoir Paris places characters in a fictionalized terrorist attack on a Parisian restaurant. Mia, played by Virginie Efira (Other People’s Children, also a 2023 release), makes a quick decision to stop in for a drink to get out of the rain. The horrific events she suffers through there lead to a sort of amnesia about the evening; fragments of memory appear to her through the span of the work as she tries to piece together what happened.
Winocour’s film focuses on the community of survivors that forms after the attack, the trauma bonding this group of folks from different backgrounds who lived through or lost family members that night. Mia’s partner Vincent (Grégoire Colin) wasn’t there and is frustrated that he doesn’t know how best to support her. She finds solace with handsome, wry Thomas (Benoît Magimel) who’d been at the café with work friends celebrating his birthday. She helps Félicia (Nastya Golubeva Carax), whose parents were killed that night, to grieve. She seeks help from Sara (Maya Sansa) about the chronology of specific events and begins a search for someone who calmed her during the attack.
The layered composition of the storytelling weaves in other voices recalling their memories of the night. While her memories slowly return, faces of the dead from the café appear to Mia in her daily life, as if the souls are encouraging her to remember. In one of the DVD special features, Efira speaks of playing Mia as a “living ghost.”
By not allowing much screen time for the attackers, Winocour’s film centers the voices and experiences of the victims. There’s a certain power in seeing Mia reclaim her memory and begin to look forward. Revoir Paris feels like a meditation and reflection, from the incorporation of Arvo Part’s quiet yet slightly jarring Fratres — which opens and closes the film — to the editing which carefully interlaces the shards of memory into the larger story. The team behind Revoir Paris craft a tender, contemplative film which leaves the viewer with a sense of hope.
Special features on the DVD include:
- an interview with director Winocour, who speaks about her inspiration for the film, the community among survivors, and “the diamond in the trauma.”
- an interview with Efira, who expresses appreciation for the subjective view and immersive experience of the film.
- a Cannes interview with Winocour and actor Magimel. They talk about Thomas’ “inner contradictions” and the film’s central love story. Winocour also mentions that the fake memorials set up by the film’s crew confused residents of the city.
- a post-screening Q&A with Winocour and Magimel from Cannes