Paris Can Wait
2017, PG, 92 min. Directed by Eleanor Coppola. Starring Diane Lane, Arnaud Viard, Alec Baldwin, Élodie Navarre, Elise Tielrooy, Cédric Monnet.
REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., June 2, 2017
A winsome 13-year-old Diane Lane made her film debut as a sheltered but bright américaine in Paris kissed for the first time by a street-smart French boy in A Little Romance, a trifling film best remembered for one of Laurence Olivier’s last memorable screen appearances. Now, almost four decades later, the still lovely Lane spends most of her time avoiding the lips of a charming French man as they languidly eat their way from Provence to Burgundy in the likewise slight Paris Can Wait. It’s evident why these Gallic males so ardently pursue her: There’s something about Diane. Even Olivier famously observed his teenage co-star’s je ne sais quoi back in 1979 by comparing her to Grace Kelly, a flattering assessment, but one that doesn’t hold up today in view of the warmth and accessibility Lane projects in her film roles in contrast to the patrician remoteness of Kelly’s handful of movie appearances. In this first narrative feature film written and directed by Eleanor Coppola (spouse of Francis Ford), Lane is as fetching as ever, which is a good thing because that’s about all the movie asks her to do.
As the taken-for-granted wife of an internationally famous film producer with a history of infidelity (Baldwin, in a performance that’s literally phoned-in), Lane effortlessly pulls you into the movie right away. But then there’s nowhere to go, as her character Anne spends the film either snapping photos of anything and everything with her digital camera (each click of the lens stops the movie cold, over and over), or dodging the silky charms of her husband’s business partner (Viard) on a road trip triggered by the clunky plot device of an earache.
Vacillating between a Frommer’s travelogue and a program on the Food Network, the movie can be summed up in a simple question: Will she or won’t she? Only Coppola knows for sure, given the cheesy wink-wink of the ending. Paris Can Wait may be a film à clef of sorts – there’s a hint of the autobiographical in it, the suggestion of something experienced – but even that angle doesn’t make the movie terribly appetizing. What it needs is a little salt.