Sony Pictures Classics 132 minutes PG
This is romance meets the Food Channel and a Frommer Travel Guide with a touch of comedy thrown in.
Diane Lane stars as Anne, the gorgeous wife of big time Hollywood director, Michael, played by Alec Baldwin. Baldwin probably gave up half a day to shoot his role. He was in there for a minute as the too-busy- to-be-attentive to his wife, husband.
The entire movie is the road trip Anne takes from Cannes to Paris with her husband’s producing partner Jacques. Arnaud Viard, as Jacques, plays the essence of a French man. He desires wine, food and a variety of women. Of course, when Anne can’t fly to Paris due to some sort of ear affliction, Jacques volunteers to drive her there (and gives her ear drops) in what was supposed to be a 7 hour trip. Instead, he becomes her guide to experience the interior of France, and perhaps more. Will Jacques be able to charm the pants off Anne? Why is he using her credit card for meals and expenses? He does some questionable things that give her pause, not the least of which is taking so long to get to their destination.
Writer/Director Eleanor Coppola is known for her documentary and production work over her more than 4 decades in the business alongside her husband of more than 50 years, Francis Ford Coppola. The pacing of the film feels a bit more like a documentary than a feature as she takes us through meal after exquisite meal and side trips to museums and lush landscapes. The shots of the food will make you drool.
That documentary theme is seen through Anne who always carries a point and shoot digital camera with her. Coppola shares Anne’s shots as well as inserting images of great French art to punctuate a particular moment. It’s all well thought out just like the route from Cannes to Provence, Lyon and Vézelay. But just like every road trip, after awhile monotony sets in.
Along with the food and the tour guide spiels, Jacques and Anne converse, sharing some insights about their own wants, pain from their past and a few light moments. The best of those probably are when Anne uses her Yankee ingenuity to use an undergarment for auto repair. That was a nice moment. It also gave us something else to look at rather than food.
Do not see this film on an empty stomach. We think Ms. Coppola must love cheese over all other foods because she goes back to this food group over and over again, making the cheeses look more appetizing with each shot. She even treats us to a huge basket of cheese that must be six feet in diameter! We wonder if famed winemaker Francis Ford Coppola suggested the wines to pair with each delectable cheese.
This is not a film that’s designed for, nor looking for mass appeal. If you can settle in and accept the leisurely pace, this film allows Diane Lane to show why she possesses a very elegant but likable persona. On the other hand, many of us at our screening kept waiting for something, anything to happen.
As a couple who love France, we absolutely encourage you to make this trip in real life. Then maybe come back to watch this movie to re-live your own special memories. Paris Can Wait is a beautiful, tasty trip, but not entirely necessary.