French director Claude Lelouch showed his new film LesParisiens for free across France on Fridayto try to prove wrong the critics who have panned it.

Lelouch said he would bear the costs of the showings atabout 400 cinemas across France, according to Reuters.

"I've taken this decision following an unprecedentedmedia lynching," he said in a radio interview.

The film opened in French cinemas on Wednesday. Lelouchplanned to foot the bill only for showings on Friday but did not say how muchthis might cost him.

The Parisians, thefirst instalment of his trilogy Genre Humain (Humankind), tells a story of love and betrayal in the Frenchcapital. But critics gave it a harsh verdict - as they had on many of Lelouch'srecent works.

"Exaggerated and insignificant", Le Figaro said; "A pathetic comedy", said Liberation.