Film Review: Paris Can Wait
"Are you at peace with your life?"
That's one of several questions Diane Lane mulls in the new movie Paris Can Wait. Written and directed by Eleanor Coppola, the film marks Coppola's fiction film debut, as she joins the family business (her husband, daughter, son, and granddaughter are all filmmakers) at the age of 81. In Paris Can Wait, Lane plays Anne, the wife of a film producer (played by Alec Baldwin) whose drive from Cannes to Paris with Jacques (Arnaud Viard), a business partner of her husband's, turns into a two day road trip of the finest dining, views, and sights that central France has to offer.
The film is light and breezy, in a very appealing way. It moves along at a sleepy pace, providing a veritable feast of gorgeous locales and delicious food. Anne has recently closed her dress shop and isn't finding fulfillment in her marriage. She's itching for a creative outlet, as evidenced by the pictures she takes with her digital camera. As she grows closer to Jacques, she begins to examine her life, her marriage, her choices. It's a movie about the quiet disappointments of a marriage, a woman's longing for fulfillment outside of her family, about rediscovering life's simple pleasures. Adult topics for a movie about adults.
None of this would work without a compelling central performance, and, thankfully, Lane is up to the task. I was nervous before seeing the film, having seen her give a lifeless, truly awful performance in The Cherry Orchard on Broadway last fall. With Paris Can Wait, Lane officially put any concerns I had about her acting ability to rest (well, screen acting at least), delivering an unadorned, understated performance. No affectations like a silly accent or heavy makeup or anything like that, just a character that feels real and an actor that portrays her with ease. It recalls the charm Lane exuded in her film debut, 1979's jubilant A Little Romance, which was also partially set in France.
Stylistically and structurally, Paris Can Wait is simple and straightforward. Those looking for something more along the lines of the similarly-themed Two for the Road will probably be disappointed. I found it delightful, but certainly fleeting. More of an appetizer than a filling meal. Although, it is full of amusing touches. I died laughing when Anne plugs in her phone to play a song by a French band her daughter introduced her to and the song is by Phoenix (the lead singer of which is, of course, Thomas Mars, Coppola's son-in-law). While it definitely won't be enough to keep everyone interested, it was enough for me.
What did YOU think of Paris Can Wait? Let me know in the comments below!