Documentary filmmaker Eleanor Coppola (Hearts of Darkness) directs her first fictional feature “Paris Can Wait” which takes on accents of Woody Allen. The film is gorgeously shot and focuses on a hectic married couple on a supposed vacation en route to Paris with a planned stop in Budapest. The film is lighter than sorbet and to its credit, it is breezy, and mildly amusing. The only drawback is that one might expect a more fulfilling repast, rather than what concludes in the end as a sequence of dramatic appetizers.
The reserved Anne (Diane Lane) is in Cannes with her hassled movie producer husband Michael (Alec Baldwin). Anne has an ear-ache and is told not to fly because of air pressure. Michael’s charming partner Jacques (Arnaud Viard) offers to drive Anne straight to Paris where the three of them can meet up, saving Anne considerable time and trouble. Jacques tells Michael that Anne will arrive in time for dinner that night.
The second after Jacques takes the starter to his Peugeot, he insists that they stop for lunch which just happens to be about fifty feet away. Anne is only slightly surprised and readily agrees.
Over sumptuous plates of prosciutto and melon with a white wine, Jacques reveals himself to be an epicurean in regard to food. Everything gustatory in life is to be savored, no taste should be ignored. Anne passively listens, troubled by her ear and she thanks him for the fine lunch.
Jacques drives for forty-five minutes, only to announce that he requires a stop every hour to smoke.
Anne half heartedly sighs.
Jacques abruptly asks for Anne’s credit card to pay for a hotel, of course. Anne betrays concern but not quite dismay.
Jacques insists that it is getting late and after all, dinner will not be dismissed and they must stay the night. Although Anne shows alarm, she is taken in by Jacques’ good cheer and leisurely pace. Though some see him as a ladies’ man, no untoward action ensues, except for Jacques’ personal questioning, causing Anne to walk away.
For the most part, the sexual tension is embodied in Anne’s compulsive fetish of picture taking with her digital camera, as she takes snap after snap of each and every meal, the barrel of the lens extending as if in the excitement of a tryst.
Rows of cheeses float by the lens like billowing clouds. Golden ducks hover in arrays resembling delicious boats. Full white-feathered chickens curve inward upon one another making an alien feast, voluptuous in death. And dark chocolate betrays its erotic intent, rising into full mounds of breasts, size C.
Anne excuses herself to call Michael, but receives only a message in return : mailbox full.
The tone throughout is decidely in second gear and the mystery is all but diffused when the danger of Jacques’ womanizing becomes a mere affectation and he solidifies into Anne’s confidante.
An illicit kiss at an elevator shifts into a sweet smile with a hope of more sensuous meals to come and a secret token of affection turns into a chaste hair-tie.
A single shot of absinthe-flavored adultery would have made all of the luxuriant lunching more compelling to be sure, yet for those who are not looking for anything profoundly deep or rich, Diane Lane and Arnaud Viard make a pleasant pairing for what is a surfacy sojurn through the French countryside.
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