Based in rural Paris, Ontario in 2006, "PARIS" is a coming of age story about when self-effacing love becomes self harm. The story follows Harry (17) as his longtime best friend Abe (17) confides in him that he has just committed involuntary manslaughter.
"I know that blood's thicker than water, I just don't know if blood's thicker than blood."
Paris is a coming of age drama set against the rural backdrop of Paris, Ontario in 2006. With their first summer after high school out of the way, best friends HARRY and ABE spend their days working at the only carwash in town and putting together their ticket out of the mundane, an old beat-up pickup truck. Living with his single mother EMILIA, who struggles with alcoholism and a warped view of religiosity, Harry is quiet, protective, and impressionable.
Harry’s loyalty to his only friend is quickly tested when Abe commits involuntary manslaughter. Deciding to keep it a secret, Harry feels pressure to be like a father as he steps into his own skin to care for those closest to him. The pressure only increases over time as Abe begins showing signs of darkness and Emilia - sensing Harry’s distance and afraid that Harry will leave her - looks for Harry to step in as the man of the house and partner to Emilia.
Abe begins spending romantic time with his victim’s sister, BREANNE. Both jealous and morally conflicted, Harry tries to divide the two without burning what’s left of his relationship with Abe.
Harry's tick of masochism grows over time as Abe becomes more and more malicious. Refusing to let go of some of the only love he’s ever known Harry is blasted into madness from all sides. Finally - resorting to the most painful thing he can do to relieve the stress and atone for Abe’s sins -Harry symbolically cuts off his right hand and kills his best friend Abe.
"And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell."
“Best not descend too rapidly, but first
get more accustomed in our sense of smell
to this grim belch. We’ll then not notice it.”
- DANTE, Inferno
Having grown up just outside of Paris, Ontario in a religious setting, I experienced years of soul-searching in the farmlands. In an era of emo music and middle school, questions about masculinity, questions about faith, and questions about love were always around and always shunned or insulted. With "PARIS", I wanted to explore the early 2000s again and let the toxic culture play itself out. There's a saying in the Christian faith that some people worship in the resurrection of Jesus, and others worship in the suffering and crucifixion. I think we stand to learn so much more from observing and empathizing with pain than we do from joy.
"PARIS" is about more than the events that surround Harry’s life. It’s a religious allegory to Cain and Abel, it’s a Grecian descent into madness inspired by "Inferno" and "Medea", and it’s an "other" point-of-view similar to that of "Stalker" or "Breathless".
When does masculinity become toxic?
When does religion become a set of rules?
When does selflessness become suicidal?