In the summer blockbuster season where the bigger the explosion the better, it can be refreshing to sit back and watch a movie that offers a much quieter experience. The premise of a drive through the Paris countryside with a woman and one of her husband’s business associates sounds like it could be any one of a dozen self-professed French sex farces. However, Paris Can Wait is actually the first full-length feature film from Eleanor Coppola, wife of legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola.
Eleanor has been married to Francis since 1963, when she met him while working as an art director on Dementia 13. With only five directorial credits to her name, comprised of documentaries and shorts, Eleanor recently decided to step behind the camera at the age of 80 for a narrative film. In fact, she also wrote the script and served as one of the three producers, quite an amazing accomplishment and one that deserves some special recognition. Unfortunately, that is where the fairytale ends as Paris Can Wait isn’t quite a masterpiece.
Visually, the film is stunning. Having been set in France, it gives viewers some beautiful imagery to peruse as the incredibly weak and somewhat nonsensical script unfolds. Our story revolves around Anne (Diane Lane, Man of Steel, Under the Tuscan Sun), who is suffering from an earache while getting ready to travel on a plane with her husband Michael (Alec Baldwin, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation), an overworked movie producer heading to Budapest. Michael’s business associate, Jacques (Arnaud Viard), offers to drive her from Cannes to Paris, where she can then be reunited with her husband when he’s finished.What follows is essentially a long car drive with Jacques very obviously making a series of well-calculated moves on Anne, while she slowly opens up and reveals herself to be at a crossroads in life. Anne’s daughter is going off to a college at a time that her business has closed. Her husband is too busy to notice her, leaving her highly susceptible to a Frenchman’s charms. Vulnerable woman meet seductive Frenchman.
While we get to see a lot of France in glorious high-definition, there is very little script to weave together a very interesting story. It’s highly predictable and never really falls into a category of full-blown love story or comedy. It also comes across as rather pretentious at times, almost as if you were watching an old episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. We learn a lot about food and wine but nothing truly seems to happen along the way, and the ending is a to-be-determined-by-viewer finale that resolves nothing.
Both Diane Lane and Arnaud Viard turn in good performances but nothing memorable, while Alec Baldwin offers us really nothing more than a glorified cameo. It’s almost as if Paris Can Wait is the celluloid version of poor Chinese food. It’s acceptable at the time but leaves you hungry and wanting something better an hour or so later. It’s worth watching if you really want to see Paris or have made it through every other foreign romance flick out there. Just know it’s marginally satisfying at the time but lacks any true substance.