Tuesday, May 09, 2017

“Paris Can Wait”– Movie Review


This week, I attended a New York Times Film Club screening of the new romantic comedy, “Paris Can Wait”, starring Diane Lane and Alec Baldwin.


When a married woman accepts an offer from a charismatic Frenchman to drive her to Paris, will she succumb to his charms or will she remain faithful to her husband?


While in Cannes joining her husband Michael (Baldwin) on a business trip, Anne (Lane) is suffering ear problems.  Michael is too preoccupied with the exigencies of his film production business, so he doesn’t have the opportunity to spend time with Anne, much less come to her aid regarding her ear problem.  Anne, meanwhile, has also been yearning for a vacation – something which Michael has been way too busy for in recent years.  When problems on a current production require Michael to head to Budapest before proceeding to Paris, Anne agrees to tag along – but when her ear condition precludes her from flying, she instead decides to head straight to Paris on her own.

Originally planning to take a train from Cannes, Anne changes her mind when Jacques (Arnaud Viard), Michael’s business partner, offers to drive her to Paris himself.  Not long into her trip, Anne believes she’s made an egregious mistake.  First, Jacques’ car is old, making it questionable as to whether or not it will survive the journey.  Also, it turns out Jacques isn’t exactly the world’s best driver.  Lastly – and most important – Jacques is not taking a direct route to Paris.  While Anne may be in a hurry to get there, he is obviously not.  Jacques takes her on quite a few side excursions along the way.

Jacques turns out to be quite the connoisseur on a great many things.  These detours open up Anne to a whole new world she would not have otherwise experienced:  great architecture, fabulous scenery and most of all, delicious food and wine.  But along the way, it becomes clear that Jacques may have some ulterior motives on this seemingly generous offer to drive Anne to Paris.  A lonely man who never married, it appears as though he may be trying to seduce Anne and possibly even steal her away from Michael.  Upon finally reaching Paris, Jacques makes Anne an offer to rendezvous with him.  Will Anne leave her husband of 20 years to have an affair with this man?


“Paris Can Wait” is certainly a pleasant enough little trifle, but if you are going to extend the food metaphor (albeit painfully), it is more of a light croissant rather than the heartier cassoulet; it is enjoyable in the moment, but quickly forgettable.  Lane seems to be trying to reprise her success in “Under The Tuscan Sun” with a Gallic twist, combining it with a bit of “Eat, Pray, Love” (with considerable emphasis on the eat).  The main reason to see “Paris Can Wait” – should you choose do to so – is for the breathtaking French sites (especially the countryside) and the mouthwatering shots of the sundry foods.

The biggest problem with “Paris Can Wait” is its flimsy script.  Its dialog can be a bit predictable, including and especially when it comes to the rather awkward and clumsy attempts to impart bits of exposition with the audience.  Additionally, the story lacks any real conflict; although the two face minor setbacks along the way, there is no true antagonist that must be overcome by the two leads either individually or collectively.  Therein lies a serious issue the movie cannot overcome; one never gets the sense of impending doom for either Lane’s character or her marriage. 

But of course the story behind the movie is what’s attracting the most attention.  “Paris Can Wait” was written and directed by Eleanor Coppola, the wife of Francis Ford Coppola; at the age of 81, she’s making her debut as both a screenwriter and feature film director.  Despite her familial connections, it’s nevertheless rather impressive that anyone of such an age would take on such a challenge.  At this point, it almost seems facetious to talk about her “career” as a filmmaker, but in the event she does attempt another motion picture, hopefully it would be something more compelling than a fantasy vacation.  

Paris Can Wait (2016) on IMDb

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