A vacation/business trip falls apart for this American couple when a neglected wife finds comfort and companionship in her husband’s business partner. Paris Can Wait, written and directed by Eleanor Coppola, is a melodramatic story of love, loss, and temptation as one woman learns to indulge and embrace life instead of constantly looking at it through a lens. (LMB: 2/5)
Review by FF2 Associate Lindsy M. Bissonnette
“Anne” (Diane Lane) is enjoying her time in Europe. She eats delicious food, views spectacular sights, and photographs every single moment and bite of her vacation. Her husband, “Michael” (Alec Baldwin), has not seen much of anything. He spends all of his time on his phone talking to coworkers, and eyeing other women. With Anne feeling neglected and lonely, the film starts out on a melancholic note.
As Michael’s work consumes him, Anne’s time is spent dealing with a terrible earache, which prevents her from flying. Michael and Anne agree to meet in Paris at a later date when he is done with work, and “Jaques” (Arnaud Viard), Michael’s friend and business partner, offers to drive her to Paris as Michael finishes work elsewhere.
At first Anne is hesitant, and finds Jacques’ European stop-and-smell-the-roses style frustrating. The trip to Paris should take less than one day, but Jacques stretches it out to last the entire long weekend. He stops every 45 minutes to stretch his legs, oil his car, have a smoke, and, of course, have something to eat. Anne, unfortunately, is set in her husband’s time-is-money mindset, and has difficulty accepting Jacques’ in-the-moment lifestyle. During the trip Jacques convinces Anne to enjoy everything around her and indulge in the beautiful French countryside landscapes, and decadent cuisines, and chemistry etween them begins to sizzle, much to Michael’s mortification.
Paris Can Wait had the potential to be something truly beautiful. At it’s very core, this a story of a woman who has been stuck in a box all her life and about what happens the moment she consciously decides to step out.
However, the film lacks subtext and subtlety when it comes to Jacques and Anne’s relationship, which harshly hurts the story and makes the 90 minutes seem like 9 hours. Searching for a redeemable quality in any of the one-note characters is exhausting as they each become more boring and predictable as the film goes on. In the first scene of the filmichael is painted in an ugly light: a typical siness-man always on his phone, talking down to his wife, who he seems to spend no time with, it’s no wonder things turn sour. He is aggressive, controlling, and does not seem to trust Anne, or want to be with her by the way he is obviously attracted to younger women. So why are they together?
From the very first moment we meet Jacques, he is obviously attracted to Anne, which does not leave the film with very far to go. What could have been a beautiful and coy flirtation between Anne and Jacques turns into a cringe worthy 90-minute film of forced intimacy, and hideously melodramatic dialogue. There are several scenes that are so embarrassingly stereotypical that they need only be mentioned in passing: a forced touch of hands, a hotel room with two beds, a dead baby, the struggle to open up to a stranger and reveal a dark secret, the list goes on and on. The ending is the worst part, which you will have to see for yourself, because it is too excruciating to critique. But never fear, the best parts of the film are the picturesque backgrounds and extravagant meals, you will leave extremely hungry for food and travel.
© Lindsy M. Bissonnette (5/9/17) FF2 Media
Top Photo: “Anne” (Diane Lane) enjoys a moment on the coast.
Middle Photo: “Jaques” (Arnaud Viard) smiles as Anne enters the dining room for dinner.
Bottom Photo: Anne and “Michael” (Alec Baldwin) share a moment over breakfast.
Photo Credits: Sony Pictures Classics
Q: Does Paris Can Wait pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?
Not a single scene between two women.