Tuileries: The Coen Brothers’ Short Film About Steve Buscemi’s Very Bad Day in the Paris Metro

All around the world, each pub­lic tran­sit sys­tem has its own rules. These come in both the offi­cial and unspo­ken vari­eties, the for­mer basi­cal­ly con­sis­tent from place to place, and the lat­ter usu­al­ly reflect­ing the mores of the soci­ety each sys­tem serves. The accept­abil­i­ty of talk­ing to one’s fel­low pas­sen­gers, for instance, tends to vary, and in some coun­tries even mak­ing eye con­tact counts as a no-no. You cer­tain­ly won’t try it in Paris after wit­ness­ing the con­se­quences when Steve Busce­mi breaks that rule in Tui­leries, this short direct­ed by the Coen broth­ers that first appeared in the anthol­o­gy film Paris, je t’aime.

“Paris is known as the City of Lights,” Buscemi’s appar­ent tourist reads in his guide­book as he sits await­ing a train in the sta­tion from which the film takes its name. “A city of cul­ture… of fine din­ing and mag­nif­i­cent archi­tec­ture. Paris is a city for lovers: lovers of art, lovers of his­to­ry, lovers of food, lovers of… love.”

Though he seems to be hav­ing a some­what less than love­ly time there, includ­ing get­ting pelt­ed by a pass­ing child’s spit­balls, he endures. Not five sec­onds after read­ing about the no-eye-con­tact cus­tom on Paris’ “rea­son­ably clean” sub­way (a laugh line for any Parisian) does he look fate­ful­ly up, catch­ing the eye of a girl across the tracks and send­ing her boyfriend into a jeal­ous rage.

For­eign­ers have long felt as intim­i­dat­ed by Paris as they’ve admired it, a mix­ture of emo­tions the Coen Broth­ers play on with­out leav­ing the Tui­leries plat­form, as does Alexan­der Payne in the alto­geth­er dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ence of the Amer­i­can alone in the City of Lights he essays at the end of Paris, je t’aime. In the decade since the movie came out, we’ve seen a few oth­er city-themed anthol­o­gy films, includ­ing New YorkI Love YouRio, Eu Te Amo, and the unre­lat­ed Tokyo!, albeit none with a sec­ond con­tri­bu­tion by the Coen broth­ers or a sec­ond appear­ance by Busce­mi — whose char­ac­ter may have yet to recov­er from from his trip to Paris any­way.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How the Coen Broth­ers Sto­ry­board­ed Blood Sim­ple Down to a Tee (1984)

How the Coen Broth­ers Put Their Remark­able Stamp on the “Shot Reverse Shot,” the Fun­da­men­tal Cin­e­mat­ic Tech­nique

Watch the Coen Broth­ers’ TV Com­mer­cials: Swiss Cig­a­rettes, Gap Jeans, Tax­es & Clean Coal

World Cin­e­ma: Joel and Ethan Coen’s Play­ful Homage to Cin­e­ma His­to­ry

4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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Comments (5)
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  • Marco says:

    This is very offen­sive towards Parisians and French peo­ple. And it’s not fun­ny. On the con­trary, Parisians are very nice and friend­ly peo­ple.

  • Maxim says:

    Typ­i­cal Hol­ly­wood anti-Euro­pean big­otry. Per­haps I’ll make a film about the appalling­ly rude Yanks I see embar­rass­ing their coun­try all over the Con­ti­nent.

  • Mike says:

    Mar­co, your com­ment is offen­sive to any­one who loves art and respects the free­dom of artists. Since when was it the job of a film­mak­er to con­firm your view of how nice peo­ple from a cer­tain place are? By your log­ic we should all con­demn Film Noir because New York­ers are very nice and friend­ly peo­ple.

  • Richard Porter says:

    Well I have sat about at that spot. I know about the no eye con­tact rule which is the same in NYC but you have to keep an eye on what is going on around you. Easy to make a social mis­take, I walked in the bike skate lane and got a French ear­ful. Ass­holes are every­where but as in NYC if you try to speak the lan­guage and are gen­uine you will be treat­ed well. I like France and the French con­trary to the rep­u­ta­tion peo­ple from Indi­ana have. Let’s judge each oth­er as indi­vid­u­als not as a group or tribe.

  • Jim Knosp says:

    The trav­el guide seen at the first of this film calls Paris “the City of Lights” — that is a stu­pid error — Paris is the “City of Light” — not Lights. Get it right Coen Broth­ers

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