Written and Directed by longtime collaborators Fiona Gordon and her husband, Dominique Abel (“The Fairy”), the lighthearted comedy “Lost in Paris” is almost too cute for its own good, taking such outlandish poetic license as a scene of an 87-year-old woman climbing onto the Eiffel Tower — through a tree. If you can forget logic, however, and just go along for the ride, its absurdity can be endearing.
After receiving a letter from her concerned Aunt Martha (Emmanuelle Riva of “Amour”) in Paris, Fiona (Gordon), an unmarried librarian who lives in a remote, snowbound part of Canada, travels to visit her relative. Upon arriving, she immediately gets lost, leading to a series of unlikely coincidences that introduce her to Dom (Abel), a hobo who falls in love with the awkward visitor.
With its visually stylish sight gags and broad physical comedy, “Lost in Paris” blends the whimsy of Wes Anderson with the inventive slapstick of Jacques Tati, creating something that feels, at times, like a circus act. As such, the film echoes the lives of its creators: Abel, who is Belgian, and the Australian-born Canadian Gordon met in Paris in the 1980s and together developed a series of burlesque shows before going on to direct films.
The actors’ lean, lanky physiques suit the movie’s cartoonish tone. Gordon, who has acknowledged her resemblance to Olive Oyl, comes off like something out of a “Popeye” short — one in which characters whistle the theme to “Last Tango in Paris.”
“Lost in Paris” narrowly escapes preciousness, thanks to actors who flesh out two-dimensional characters with physical enthusiasm. (This goes for the veteran Riva, who died in January, as well.) Quirky to a fault, the film’s most absurd moments are nevertheless grounded by the human need for connection.
Unrated. At Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema. Contains strong language, nudity and sexual situations. In English and French with subtitles. 83 minutes.