The star of Paris Can Wait is Diane Lane, with supporting performances by Alec Baldwin, food, wine, Provence, and chocolate.
The movie is directed by Eleanor Coppola, wife of Francis and filmmaker in her own right – she won an Emmy in 1991 for her documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse.
Paris Can Wait is her first feature and loosely based on her own experiences. Lane plays Anne, a woman married to a famous moviemaker (Baldwin). They’re at the Cannes film festival, he’s called away to a film set in North Africa, and she decides to make her way to Paris by way of the French countryside, accompanied by her husband’s friend and business associate Jacques (Arnaud Viard).
Friend in a French, Pepe Le Pew kind of way. He commences to flirting immediately. And it’s not idle flirting – when he tells Anne she’s lovely and amazing and underappreciated, he’s complimenting her, but really making an overt argument that he is uniquely qualified to do the appreciating, and is available immediately.
She keeps him at arm’s length, though the trip is very long. He knows every spot between Cannes and Paris where a delicious and romantic meal can be found, not to mention fresh-cut roses (her favorite), which he dumps in the back of the convertible so they can enjoy the fragrance.Will she succumb?
Her cheat days seem mainly to involve food. Also, Viard is not Alain Delon in the looks department. He’s a bit of a pest, and claims to have lost his credit cards, so Anne ends up footing the bill — which is considerable.
The movie’s rarefied food-ogling starts to feel a bit posh, and although Lane is a naturally likable actress, she risks losing our goodwill when Jacques asks her what she likes, and she says “expensive jewelry.” This picks up a thread that’s on view in the opening scene – Anne and her husband in a luxurious hotel suite, eating croissants and marmalade, complaining that the coffee is cold.
Coppola has a remedy for this air of casual entitlement. When Anne is near the end of her journey, she stops in a cathedral and dissolves in tears, opening up to Jacques about the secret sorrows of her life.
Lane, who hasn’t had much to do in the movie except eat and shoo away a persistent Frenchman, knows this is one thing she has to get right, and aces it. She’s good, too, in the movie’s final shot, winking at us through the fourth wall.
Paris Can Wait
Directed by Eleanor Coppola. With Diane Lane, Alec Baldwin, Arnaud Viard. Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics.
Running time: 1 hour, 32 mins.
Parent's guide: PG
Playing at: Ritz 5.