Depictions of mermaids on the big screen tend to be one of two things. They’re either the mythical terror of the deep who lure men to their deaths or they’re a perfectly tractable partner for a leading man. It’s safe to say that most roles are written by men! There’s normally very little imagination involved. That’s where Mathias Malzieu’s film is a breath of fresh air. Whilst A Mermaid in Paris might not re-write the romance playbook, it is brimming over with ideas and inventiveness.

Gaspard (Nicolas Duvauchelle) is an old romantic with a broken heart. His life revolves around The Flowerburger, a once grand cabaret moored on the banks of The Seine. Where he sings and which has been in his family for decades, but now is struggling to survive. One night after performing on his way home, he discovers a mermaid (Marilyn Lima) washed up and injured on a quay. At a loss about what to do, he takes her home and pops her in the bath.

A Mermaid in Paris is impressive from the start. There’s a beautiful opening credit sequence and much of the film is adorned with a touch of sparkle. It’s a film out of its time and one which draws some comparisons to the magic conjured up by Jeunet and Caro. The story itself is basic, but that’s not really the point. However, it does seem to lose its way in the final third, making some strange editorial and pacing choices. This slightly takes the sheen off what is an unusual and enthralling tale.

A Mermaid in Paris screens at Fantasia Festival.