Paris Can Wait
Diane Lane, Alec Baldwin, Arnaud Viard
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…startling in its pointlessness.
Despite being easy on the eye and relatively painless to endure, Paris Can Wait is also startling in its pointlessness. To bandy about an oft-used cliché, this really is a film about nothing, a paean to good food and good wine, and little more. The fact that the film marks the belated feature directorial debut of 81-year-old Eleanor Coppola (who famously crafted the behind the scenes footage for the doco, Hearts Of Darkness, which chronicled the making of Apocalypse Now, directed by her husband, Francis Ford Coppola) only makes it more frustrating. After all these years around the film industry, couldn’t Coppola have come up with something, well, more?
Paris Can Wait takes in the journey of Anne (the ever luminous and always watchable Diane Lane), who heads from the south of France to Paris by car while her movie producer husband, Michael (Alec Baldwin), is off on business. The hook? She’s being accompanied on the journey by Michael’s colleague, Jacques (Arnaud Viard), who instantly makes his intentions clear by informing Anne that in France, attitudes towards marriage and infidelity are different than they are in America. Unashamedly trying to seduce her, Jacques intentionally takes the long route to Paris, with the pair enjoying a host of restaurants and historical monuments along the way.
Instantly hobbled by its sleazily unsympathetic leading male character, Paris Can Wait is little more than a glossy travelogue, with Arnaud Viard offering tedious exposition on every historical site that the pair visits and Diane Lane doing her best to add new inflections to each restaurant-bound food-gasm that she’s required to perform. With the whole so light and inconsequential, the film’s very rare darker moments (with Anne and Jacques revealing some of the pain in their respective pasts) sadly hint at what could have been a far meatier and more engaging affair. Instead, Eleanor Coppola settles for a fluffy soufflé of a film sorely lacking in two essential cinematic ingredients: substance and meaning.