“This is Paris”-Review

Victor Rivera
4 min readApr 7, 2021

Early in her film “This is Paris,” Paris Hilton apologizes to the cameraman filming Paris driving: “Sorry. I’m so used to playing a character on camera. I’ll just be normal.” While you and I might say, “Sorry for acting so abnormal; I’m not used to constantly having cameras around,” there was something relatable about this moment. In one early scene, Paris walks into a room holding her adorable dog and moving and looking like she’s on a runway in front of millions of people. Paris has to be told, “walk normal.” Being a Hilton child with a camera always around, named Paris and nicknamed “Star” means she knew from the start she had big shoes to fill one day and acting normal would take a concerted effort.

In her early days of fame, Paris was interviewed and asked, “Why are people so fascinated by you?” “People ask me that all of the time and I don’t know” she replied. I wish I had been there to answer her: It’s because many of us see ourselves, or ideal selves, in you, as strange as that may sound (and for me to type): A person with ups and downs but who always seems to come back stronger. Having fun in a way that is cool but mocks “coolness.” While most of us are not Paris in the cultural-socio-economic sense (the scene of a pile of $100 bills falling out of her purse kindly reminds us of this), there is much to be empathetic with her about in this documentary. Unexpectedly (unless you’ve known ahead of time), the film takes the serious turn it was hinting at earlier (“I’m a different person than when filming this started” she says at the beginning) when Hilton shares her difficulties with insomnia stemming from a recurring nightmare she has where two men drag her out of a room and asks her if she “wants it the hard way or the easy way.” As she shares her dream and her pain, the mask we’re all so accustomed to fades. We see the personal side of her and we see ourselves in her again.

Many of us who have suffered childhood and/or other traumatic experiences spend most of the ensuing days wearing a mask for others and playing the role we think they want to see while silently (and sometimes not so silently) suffering in pain long into the night. As Paris’s sister Nicky astutely says in the film, “The mind may forget trauma, but the body never does” (paraphrase). We sadly learn later in the film that this nightmare is based on what happened to her in a Utah boarding school, where she and other kids were beaten, imprisoned, drugged, and strangled regularly.

Victor Rivera

I study psychology, organizations, and gainz.