Movie Review: Paris Can Wait - a smug, pointless, cloth-eared vanity project

Transmission Films

Paris Can Wait opens in NZ cinemas on July 20.

Paris Can Wait (PG, 92 mins) Directed by Eleanor Coppola ★

Diane Lane – an actress I will watch in anything, any time – is Anne.

And Anne is the doting and uncomplaining wife of Michael, a Hollywood power-broker played by Alec Baldwin. The couple are together at Cannes, but Michael has business in Budapest. Anne's earache prevents her from flying and the couple agree that Anne can travel to Paris with Michael's business partner Jacques.

A promised eight-hour drive turns into a three day road-trip of detours to the sort of places you might see photographs of on a calendar given to you by a relative who had been to the south of France and didn't like you very much.

Even the talents of Diane Lane can't save Paris Can Wait.

Even the talents of Diane Lane can't save Paris Can Wait.

Jacques, being a Frenchman created by an American writer, tries to seduce his best friend's wife via an unfeasible number of dinners and picnics. While Anne pushes him back but still appears half-interested on what the pot-bellied, chain-smoking lecher might have to offer.

To pad out the moments, and perhaps to hint at something that might loosely be described as a personality, Anne takes photographs of everything she eats and everywhere she goes.

Not to post on social media, but simply to gaze at winsomely or share with the salivating Jacques, who would clearly praise the scent of Anne's farts if he thought it might get him a step closer to a quick round of "cacher la saucisse".

Paris Can Wait's Anne (Diane Lane) just feels like an empty vessel to be haggled over by the men.

Paris Can Wait's Anne (Diane Lane) just feels like an empty vessel to be haggled over by the men.

READ MORE: 
* Paris Can Wait: How Eleanor Coppola followed Francis, Sofia into fiction
Cannes 2017: The Square, Joaquin Phoenix, Diane Kruger and Sofia Coppola take out top prizes​
Sofia Coppola's 'The Beguiled' criticised for leaving out slave narrative


Theoretically, even that gossamer-thin premise could yield a watchable film. An Eat, Pray, Love for Gold Card-carriers that no one with a heart could truly object to. But no.

Eat, Pray, Love is Wittgenstein compared to Paris Can Wait.

This is a smug, pointless, cloth-eared, vanity project of a film. A witless and thoughtless Mills and Boon-level wallow in privilege and self-absorption performed by people who appear to be reading off teleprompters stapled to each other's foreheads.

Anne, even acted by Lane, is an empty vessel to be haggled over by the men. The late introduction of tragedy in Anne's past felt like nothing more than a cynical stab at creating some credible reason for Anne's complete detachment from her own life. But it was too little, too contrived and far too late.

That writer/director Eleanor Coppola – who made the fine documentary Hearts of Darkness and who is married to Francis Ford Coppola – is still making films at the age of 80 truly delights me.  Actually watching Paris Can Wait, less so. 

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 - Stuff

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