Paris Can Wait

2017-06-30 09:32
 

What it's about:

Anne is at a crossroads in her life. Long married to a successful, driven, but inattentive movie producer, she unexpectedly finds herself taking a car trip from Cannes to Paris with a business associate of her husband. What should be a seven-hour drive turns into a carefree two-day adventure—replete with diversions involving picturesque sights, fine food and wine, humour, wisdom and romance, reawakening Anne's senses and giving her a new lust for life.

What we thought:

Hollywood has always represented France in a very romantic light – good food, picturesque countryside and vivacious lovers – and Paris Can Wait is as stereotypical as you can get. Arnaud Viard plays the Frenchman that every non-French person imagines Frenchmen to be, and despite a charming Diane Lane, the cast comes second-place to the real main character in the film – France.

An American woman (Lane) finds herself on a road trip from Cannes to Paris with her workaholic husband’s (Alec Baldwin) shrew business partner (Viard), and discovers what holidays are all about.

Paris Can Wait is basically a feature length advertisement for visiting France, bombarding you with ridiculously good-looking food, overly romantic scenery and a deluge of French culture that at times are almost nauseating. The filmmaker attempts at giving the film some depth as the characters reveal deep personal traumas throughout the journey, but it seems forced amongst the extravagance of the road trip. I am also a bit wary of the way that Viard’s character ‘overpowers’ the decision-making of Lane’s character, providing her with little agency over their trip. In real life, I would be a little scared if I was stuck with someone like that, but because he’s ‘French’ it gives him a pass in the film.

If you ignore the flimsy plot, the film is exquisitely filmed as the cinematographer relishes in the sights, sounds and tastes of France, especially the mouth-watering food. Director Eleanor Coppola (mother of Sofia Coppola and wife of Francis Coppola) must have gone on a tour through France and decided this would make a good setting for a film, and she might have been right in the beginning, but the setting ended up dominating the screen time, with little spotlight left for the cast of two. I do have to concur that I do not feel like I was the target audience though, and that focus was rather on the baby-boomer generation who might have had a few ‘what if’ moments in their marriages and can actually afford a glamourous European trip like that. Us millennials have to stick to the third-world destination holidays for our frivolous road trips.

If you like to indulge in travel shows and have a special affinity for France, you’d probably enjoy a film like Paris Can Wait, but if you’re under the age of 40 and like a bit of meat with your cinematic experience, then you can give this tourism film a skip. Baldwin is his usual grumpy self, Lane’s character just lets everything happen to her without her real consent, and Viard is framed as the kind of Frenchman your mother warned you about. And if you do decide to take the scenic stroll through the French countryside, be prepared for an insatiable craving for cheese and chocolate afterwards.

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