Paris Belongs to Us ★★★★

Godard took Fuller and Bogart; Rivette brings Hitchcock and Welles (and perhaps a little Ulmer) to this debut film. Like other Rivettes I’ve seen, there’s excess abound and the narrative meanders through scenes, where location is way more important than plot (the director standing on the roof overlooking Paris feels like the great shot of Burt Lancaster in Sweet Smell of Success). But this is an apocalyptic conspiracy film through and through, led by a naïve girl navigating a very dangerous space. Opening scene sets the stage with the Hitchcock-styled camera movements and the neighbor screaming about how everyone is doomed. Anne’s interest in running down these mysterious tapes is classic MacGuffin, as she finds herself literally transforming into an actress before her eyes. But more than anything, it feels like Touch of Evil, a surreal space in which anything and everything can happen, where you can’t trust anyone, and the city consumes the innocent (except Janet Leigh would be leading the action). It’s a stage for a performance that never happens on an actual stage, except in the very humorous diversion we see Gerard’s production consumed by producers (“We need to cast dwarves. None over four feet tall”). Love many of the details, especially the multiple eyes of the drawings in Philip Kauffman’s apartment. That the paranoia conspiracy is confirmed by the end of the film is also smartly upended by the fact that who killed who and what was the goal makes it all the more anxious (compare that to the 1970s paranoia films, where the protagonists might fail, but at least they know who and what is out there).