REVIEW: Paris 13th District – a black and white story of love, lust and mistaken identity in current day Paris

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Paris 13th District (Les Olympiades), another film currently showing at the AFFFF 2022, is a portrayal of the love, lust and sex lives of young Parisians living in Les Olympiades, a set of apartment complex skyrises in Paris’ 13th arrondissement. Shot in black and white, this adaptation of Adrian Tomine’s graphic novel Killing and Dying, reveals the lives of Émilie, Camille, Nora and Amber Sweet.

Paris 13th district

The cast is made of up actors we’ve not seen before: Lucie Zhang as Émilie Wong, Makita Samba as Camille Germain, Noémie Merlant as Nora Ligier, and Jehnny Beth as Amber Sweet.


Paris 13th District and its actors have been nominated for a number of prestigious awards. Lucie Zhang, who plays Emilie, was nominated for Most Promising Actress at both the César Awards and the Lumiere Awards for her role in Paris 13th District. Makita Samba, in the role of Camille, was nominated for Most Promising Actor.


Co-adapted by director Jacques Audiard together with two of French cinema’s brightest writer-directors, Léa Mysius (Ava, AF FFF18) and Céline Sciamma (Girlhood, AF FFF15), Paris 13th District was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at the César Awards.


While the film plays out in initially in two distinct parts, the characters from the first two parts entwine in what follows. The first part introduces us to Emilie and Camille. The second to Nora and Amber Sweet.

Les Olympiades/ Paris 13th District


While most of us are not accustomed to watching films in black and white in our colour saturated world, after a short while you forget that you’re watching something in black and white and become immersed in the story and the beautifully shot images themselves.


While this is Paris in title, there are no Eiffel Tower shots, just a passing reference to a view of the Seine, which we are not shown. This view of the 13th arrondissement makes you feel like you could be in any city in the world, perhaps even Shanghai, a cameo character says.


Paris 13th district is beautifully shot. The opening scene has a drone-like feel flying between the buildings of Les Olympiades and giving views of the geometrically appealing courtyards.  A scene with Emilie running in the rain sees the frame narrow which gives it an old-wordly feel of black and white movies past. Emilie dancing in the Chinese restaurant in which she works also has a dream-like quality. Rone’s electronic music won him the Best Composer Award at Cannes. His music adds to rather than guides the film’s scenes.


Beware, Paris 13th district is not for the prudish – there are quite a few sex scenes and nudity. It’s a beautifully shot portrayal of these characters and the lives they lead in current, modern-day Paris.


Matilda Marseillaise watched a digital screener of this film.


To find out when Paris, 13th district is showing in your city, click here


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WHAT: Alliance Française French Film Festival


  • Adelaide: 24thMarch to 24th April (Encore screenings: 25th to 26th April)
  • Brisbane: 16thMarch to 13th April (Encore screenings: 14th to 18th April)
  • Byron Bay: 30thMarch to 14th April (Encore screenings: 15th to 16th April)
  • Hobart: 9thto 20th March
  • Canberra: 2nd March to 6th April (Encore screenings: 7th to 10th April)
  • Melbourne: 3rd March to 6th April (Encore screenings: 7th to 10th April)
  • Parramatta: 7thto 10th April
  • Perth: 9th March to 6th April (Encore screenings: 7th to 10th April)
  • Sydney: 1stMarch to 6th April (Encore screenings: 7th to 10th April)

HOW: Discover the AFFFF 2022 programme here.


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