Paris Can Wait is a pleasant piece of escapism that leads to an unsatisfying end. Though it seems the film has all the makings of a successful rom-com, it lacks tension, drama and complication. Still, Paris Can Wait is visually delightful and its general lightheartedness makes for an enjoyable watch. With stunning scenic landscapes, culinary delights and excessive French wines, it is self-indulgence at its finest. Diane Lane is charming as Anne, and does the best she can with the slow-travelling plot. Despite its enticing menu, Paris Can Wait has more potential than what is served up.
The film begins in Budapest, where Anne and her workaholic-director husband, Michael (Alec Baldwin), are to catch a private plane to Paris. Anne’s earache prevents her from flying, so she cautiously accepts a lift to Paris with her husband’s French business partner, Jacques (Arnaud Viard). Anne, who feels largely unnoticed by her husband, is anxious at the prospect of an intimate road trip through France with this relative stranger.
By the end of the trip, Jacque has Anne questioning her marriage and her own happiness, challenging her to take on his carefree, European approach to life and pleasure. This should-be-quick trip soon turns into a frivolous three-day escapade through France. Along the way, first-time feature director Eleanor Coppola (yes, wife of Francis Ford and mother of Sofia) serves up stunning landscapes of the French countryside, but little chemistry between the two leads.
Despite the clichés, Viard is so convincing in his role that you believe Jacques when he says ‘Driving is the only way to see a country’ and you actually think when he poses the question to Anne, ‘What makes you dance in the streets?’ Albeit embellished, Viard plays the part of charming Frenchman remarkably well.
There are flashes of brilliance in Paris Can Wait, particularly in the moments where it touches on the intricacies of human doubt and the desire to live life passionately. The film also explores mature themes and the complex nature of relationships with grace and subtlety (without the use of nudity or anything too vulgar.) This approach gives Paris Can Wait a rise above the usual repertoire of most-modern rom-coms. It’s a refreshing style for this type of comedy; perhaps a credit to its 80-year-old director. If nothing else, the film may just inspire you to hire a car and travel across a gorgeous European countryside.
Paris Can Wait is an easy watch, fueled by decadence and divine food. But if you are looking for something with substance or anything resembling narrative tension, you are unlikely to find it here. The chemistry lacking between Anne and Jacques (who lives up to every flirty Frenchman cliché in the book) is obvious and unfortunate. To top it off, alongside several undeveloped subplots, the particularly bland finale may leave some disappointed and disconcerted about the film’s ultimate message after a 90-minute journey.
Though light and enjoyable for the most part, Paris Can Wait… can probably wait for a DVD or Netflix release before you give it a watch.
THE REEL SCORE: 6/10