Movie Review: 'This Is Paris' Tries To Answer Who Is Paris Hilton?

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Who is Paris Hilton? Truth be told, by the end of Alexandra Dean’s stunningly polished documentary, viewers are not left with a definitive answer. The one thing that “This Is Paris” undoubtedly hopes you walk away with is the impression that who the public has witnessed leave an indelible mark on pop culture is not the real Paris Hilton.

She is supposedly an amalgam of fantasy and a highly engineered ideal that the real Paris Hilton has been hiding behind. “This Is Paris” is a wonderfully directed and gripping glimpse behind the curtain of a highly public figure that the general public supposedly does not know at all.

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More than fifteen years after breaking into pop culture with a pink-hued vengeance, Paris Hilton is still in the public eye. Viewers who have heard a little less about her in recent years may be surprised to learn she is busier than ever as a world-renowned DJ and businesswoman.

For all intents and purposes, Paris Hilton is a character right out of Netflix’s (cancelled) series, “White Lines,” where nightclubs and club music are king. Or is she? Hilton admits loving the club scene and its nightlife, yet everyone tells “This Is Paris,” she is nothing like her public persona.

It is tough to know where exactly that line is drawn. “This Is Paris” is the rawest look that Hilton has provided into her psyche. This is her “Miss Americana” movie, and like Taylor Swift before her, she acknowledges the pull of public adoration and the struggles of fame. There is more to Hilton’s story than her present.

In truth, it is like watching someone attempt to flee a tidal wave. All in vain, although it is their only means of possibly feeling they are doing something. “This Is Paris” tackles one of the most considerable aspects of its subject’s past, replete with Hilton revealing the truth to her mother for the first time.

In one of its few cringey moments, cameras uncomfortably roll as Kathy Hilton learns her daughter’s harsh truth. However, the doc does not tread on other matters, such as Paris Hilton’s highly publicized jail time for her DUI. If there was ever an experience that would have triggered her past torment, I would imagine jail would have been it.

As someone hyper-aware of that chapter in Paris Hilton’s life, I am curious why she or her inner circle did not do more to prevent it all those years ago. Hilton could have had a driver and drank with no worries about having to drive under the influence. So, why did she not? “This Is Paris” never goes there.

Nor does it touch the topic of her jail time at all. Celebrity has often been a two-edged sword with no mercy, as “Cobra Kai” would say. Paris Hilton does not acknowledge the danger of hanging in adult clubs while underage. A place where predators could have harmed her. Not to mention the drug and alcohol scene, which is no place for a 15-year-old.

To her massive credit, Paris’ sister Nicky Hilton comes through as the voice of reason, sharing their parents’ concerns amid their well-intentioned mistake of how they handled it. “This Is Paris” also brushes over Hilton’s raunchy adult days of hard-partying with Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan.

Nor does it address Paris Hilton’s relationship with her “Simple Life” co-star, the scene-stealing Nicole Richie. Hilton friend Kim Kardashian West offers a few words, whereas Richie is not featured at all. Meanwhile, there is a wonderfully refreshing sympathetic beat spent looking to the past to state that Hilton was violated by the release of “the tape” without her consent.

In light of the #MeToo movement, there is more than one thing that sticks out as old TV footage plays. There is the notion that Paris Hilton changed between 13 and 15 without any deep thoughts offered as to why. To its credit, “This Is Paris” puts a lot of cards on the table. However, some get lost in the shuffle.

The times have undoubtedly changed. Paris Hilton was just a bit behind the curve of that evolution. In many ways, “This Is Paris” acknowledges her trendsetting touch on pop culture. The selfie, popularizing “that’s hot,” vocal fry, and the notion behind being a social influencer all come from Paris Hilton.

She was the innovator with all that entails, and the weight of the crown can be a heavy one. Time will tell if she can say “This Is Paris” and refer to an embraced reality in the process. With her revelation out there, maybe Paris Hilton can start picking up the pieces of a shattered identity caught in her cotton candy fantasy.

Rating: 8.5/10

“This Is Paris” is currently streaming for free on YouTube.