I’ve complained recently that I’m sick of movies, indie or otherwise, that are all about miserable people. One of the reasons I enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is that despite some of the hardship there, it was at the very least a fun movie. At least this movie wasn’t miserable.
Paris Can Wait comes from director/writer Eleanor Coppola, the 81-year-old wife of famed director Francis Ford Coppola. Apparently it’s inspired by a trip she had in France a few years ago. And that makes sense, because the movie is like a slideshow of an actual road trip, which means the people on screen are enjoying it far more that the people watching it.
In the movie, Diane Lane stars as Anne, the wife of successful movie producer Michael (Alec Baldwin) as they are traveling in Cannes. They are heading off to Budapest for another movie thing, and Michael is super busy and often on the phone. But due to Anne’s ear pain, she cannot fly and so Michael’s business partner/friend Jacques (Arnaud Viard) offers to drive her to Paris.
Immediately it’s suspicious, but whatever, it’s time to head off on the road. What follows is a long stretch of time as Jacques, which is so on the nose as a French name I’d think it was satirical if this movie understood satire, continues to make detours to show off sights and grab food. Many, many instances of discussion on food and wine follow, as Jacques makes the obvious slow burn on seduction.
Sure, the two gradually reveal things about themselves and open up, but it’s shallow in terms of real connection. Sure, there’s a weird thread about Jacques’ finances that never gets resolved. Sure, there’s another weird thread about Jacques’ history of romancing younger women that also never really gets resolved. And sure, Jacques is a weird character that seems like a parody of a Frenchman.
But all this really just means that the movie does not really go anywhere. Anne is portrayed as this older woman who is looking for a new purpose after leaving her old business, and she’s also an absurdly talented photographer. Is she happy with her thinly drawn producer husband who’s also barely in the movie? Is she going to fall in love with this new French stereotype?
So the writing was full of attempted witticisms and philosophical musings, and the attempts at building characters from caricatures. Diane Lane is honestly excellent here, stunning and subtle, the clear star of the movie. The problem is that the movie expects us to believe she’d find Jacques far more fascinating than he actually seems to be. The movie also looks beautiful, with great shots of sites and sumptuous looks at food.
But the food porn doesn’t hold a candle even to that recent Chinese rom-com movie This Is Not What I Expected, which although was also a bit pretentious about food, at least had thematic resonance with its portrayal. Here, it’s just mass exposition. Huge swathes of the movie are French conversations between Jacques and other people and they are not subtitled. Why? Oh, who knows? This movie annoys me when I think about it.
It’s not really a bad movie, but it is ultimately quite pointless.
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Paris Can Wait has a running time of 1 hour 32 minutes, and is rated PG for thematic elements, smoking and some language.