Cédric Klapisch explores the fragility of man in the face of his own mortality in Paris.

Romain Duris is Pierre, a former dancer, in need of a heart transplant that promises only a 40 percent chance of survival. As he bides his time on the donor list in his Paris apartment, his own existence becomes intertwined with those of the people whose paths he crosses. Due to his limitations, he is forced to live through those who pass through his sphere, and their own struggles with life, death and love become the focal point of the film.

Pierre is cared for by his sister, Elise (Juliette Binoche), a recently divorced social worker and mother. The parade of desperate souls who filter through her welfare office is too much for her to bear in light of the tragedy at home. When romance blossoms at the local market, she hardly acknowledges the advances made upon her, instead wallowing in her own feelings of inadequacy.

Pierre too craves sexual interaction, even going as far as allowing the arrangement of an awkward tryst. Yet he forgoes the pursuit of a relationship with the beautiful worker at the bakery that he frequents, their furtive glances left to linger.

Klapisch exerts a certain charm typical of his work, the charm that won over audiences worldwide with L’auberge espagnol and its follow-up, Les poupées russes (Russian Dolls). Now counting himself among the top French filmmakers, he peppers his work with a veritable who’s who of the insular French acting world.

Duris, a Klapisch mainstay, excels in an entirely different roll to the L’auberge series, to which he lends a graceful, understated performance. It is impossible to envision anyone other than Binoche as Elise.

Although a seemingly unresolved ending may leave some frustrated, Klapisch manages to close with a Pierre at peace with the outcome of his existence. A Hollywood ending would prove destructive to a film rooted in uncertainty, whose message is to relish every moment, because nothing is guaranteed.

Grade: A-

Paris releases in select theaters Sept. 18.