Paris Can Wait, the first foray into fiction from Eleanor Coppola (wife of Francis Ford), is at best a Woody Allen-esque Americans-do-Europe travelogue, and at worst a boring and indulgent piece of wealth porn. It opens with a vaguely witty parody of film industry professionals, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen done better elsewhere (Hail, Caesar!, for instance), and unfortunately it’s downhill from there.
Coppola seems to be aiming for whimsical will-they-won’t-they pseudo-romance, but instead creates a very superficial portrait of culture clash. As Anne (Lane) and Jacques’s (Viard) road trip becomes more rest stop than road, Jacques’s coercive behaviour becomes increasingly discomforting. Yet this isn’t a taut thriller; it’s trying for romantic comedy, as the sun-bathed locations and cheerful music heavy-handedly demonstrate.
Paris Can Wait is firmly American in perspective. It doesn’t bother to translate the significant amount of French dialogue, though doing so may have made for a funnier film. Instead we get Alec Baldwin in a brief and typecast role which defines phoning it in, followed by an increasingly tiresome chronicle of expensive meals. It gradually becomes clear that the pretensions of the dull, caricature-like characters are also shared by the film itself. It’s nearly as bad as being forced to look at someone else’s holiday photos, and the odd interpolation of Anne’s mediocre snaps only intensifies the film’s similarity to this experience.
The final shot, however, offers a twist of intrigue; Anne is suggestively cast in a new light in a jarring but effective breach of the fourth wall. While still reprehensible, this at least makes her seem more empowered than she’d previously appeared.
Clearly the work of somebody enchanted by cinema, Paris Can Wait is nevertheless a piece of vacuous crud. The story is cookie-cutter dull, and Lane and Viard have next to no chemistry.
CAST: Diane Lane, Alec Baldwin, Arnaud Viard, Linda Gegusch
DIRECTOR: Eleanor Coppola
WRITER: Eleanor Coppola
SYNOPSIS: Long married to a successful workaholic movie producer, Anne unexpectedly finds herself taking a car trip from Cannes to Paris with Jacques, a business associate of her husband. But what should be a seven-hour drive turns into a carefree two-day adventure involving picturesque sights, fine food and lots of wine.