MOVIE: PARIS CAN WAIT
STARRING: DIANE LANE; ALEC BALDWIN; ARNAUD VIARD
DIRECTED BY: ELEANOR COPPOLA
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 2 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
Seriously, only someone with the last name Coppola could successfully pull off directing a film like Paris Can Wait. And the only lead actor who could elevate a story, about a woman finding herself on a luscious European trip, indulging on the delectable foods and libations, coasting through the Parisian countryside, is Diane Lane. Together, it makes for a perfect pair, in what is a light, picturesque, jaunt of a film that evoked a surprising amount of smiles to my face. Paris Can Wait is such a pleasant film, it's nearly impossible to dislike.
Now, I don't want to oversell this film, which has extra cheesy dialogue, and formulaic themes that will induce more than a fair share of Anderson Cooper type eye rolls. But, it also has a kindhearted nature to it, about living life to the fullest, beautiful lush scenery, and a human spirit that shines like the sun. Anne (Lane) is standing on a balcony in Cannes, while her movie producer husband Michael (Alec Baldwin) chats on the phone with a disgruntled director. Although the gorgeous seaside view makes the trip worth it, this relationship is obviously stale, functioning more like an assistant-employee connection, where she helps him find his socks, and reminds of what meetings he has that day. The next destination is Budapest, before finishing back in Paris, but instead of going with her husband, Anne is having a problem with her ears, and decides to join fellow executive Jacques (Arnaud Viard) on a road trip straight to the city of lights.
The film was written and directed by Coppola, who is the wife of Francis and mother of Sofia, in what is her first feature; developed from her own personal experiences. She delivers an honest and experienced film, that does an exquisite job highlighting the many magnificent things about Diane Lane. The Unfaithful star is the perfect fit, especially because she is fabulous to look at, as the 52-year old is the embodiment of grace, independence, and romance. The rapport she has with Viard is a timid and fun game of temptation, involving multiple detours. The pace allows our senses to absorb the mouth watering four course meals, tours of textile museums, and a picnic on the side of the road, where the two characters become company that we don't mind to keep.
What does not always work is the chemistry between the two leads. There is a cuteness to Viard's character, but he is also kind of creepy, almost lacking in the coolness you want in the lead to win the heart of Diane Lane. I found myself wishing Baldwin was the one on the road trip. It's also a bad sign when Paris Can Wait starts to repeat itself. At a brisk hour and thirty-two minutes, it could still use to remove two stops to eat along the way. Even though Lane brings a uniqueness, I couldn't help but feel we had seen a better film like this, such as the Michael Winterbottom's The Trip, or very similar narratives in Julia Roberts in Eat. Pray. Love or one of Lane's earlier films Under the Tuscan Sun. Let's just say, I was not surprised when Viard's character painfully & predictably says...”but Paris Can Wait”...groan.
And yet, I was still pleasantly surprised by what is accomplished in Paris Can Wait. It reminded me a bit of the Russell Crowe led- A Good Year, as it is ultimately the cinematic equivalent of a nice summer walk around the block. You know your mother will enjoy something like this, where the images of delicious food make you hungry, the sights make you want to plan a trip to Paris, and you certainly fall in love with Diane Lane all over again. I think films such as this deserve a chance, because Eleanor Coppola is telling a story for a different audience. The forgotten age demographic that rarely gets to escape to the theater, even though they still deserve a better film than this, they get to have a breezy moment and bask in the Paris sun.
2 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady