Film Review: Paris Can Wait, An Interesting Failure

Photograph courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

It’s an interesting failure, but a failure nonetheless. At age 81, writer-director Eleanor Coppola (wife of Francis Ford Coppola) has made her first film, Paris Can Wait, a dalliance of a movie that finds a well-to-do woman named Anne (Diane Lane) taking a driving trip from Cannes to Paris with an associate of her husband Michael (Alec Baldwin). Sounds harmless enough until, the dashing associate, Jacques (Arnaud Viard), starts making detour after detour through the French countryside to introduce this passionate American woman to the hidden corners of French living and eating.

Paris Can Wait is a glorious travelogue movie that is elegantly photographed, and it could certainly be fuel for the travel-porn set who can actually afford this type of vacation. What should have been a day trip ends up becoming several days on end, with each new day bringing the pair to another exotic and/or quaint new location with better food and wine than the last. Jacques is also quite the tour guide, with information about each region, an intimate knowledge of the restaurants and other attractions, and a healthy dose of French philosophy to go with the journey. And it should come as no surprise that he knows how to turn on the charm to temp Anne to sleep with him, as if not doing so might be considered an insult to his French sensibilities.

There is nothing to this frothy mixture blend of travel fantasy, fine eating and polite conversation. There are hints that Anne is less than satisfied with the attention given her by her film producer husband, but nothing so terrible that she’d risk her marriage. The freedom afforded her by taking the drive at all seems to energize her to a degree and make her realize she doesn’t need her husband’s attention and company to enjoy her days, but beyond that, Paris Can Wait doesn’t offer much in the way of life lessons or inspiration. If you like looking at pretty landscapes and gourmet food, you’ll be in heaven here. Otherwise, the movie feels like a an adventure film for the idle rich, and you’ll leave it thinking “Must be nice.”

The film opens today at the Landmark Century Center Cinema.

Steve Prokopy
Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet
Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for
Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and
filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a
frequent contributor at /Film (SlashFilm.com) and Backstory Magazine.
He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently
owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for
the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer
for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the
city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.

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