When it comes to names in the film industry, none are more venerable than that of the Coppola’s. Illustriously crafting some of the greatest films in history, from Francis exalting works such as Apocalypse Now to The Godfather and more recently with his daughter’s Sofia success at Cannes with The Beguiled, the name brings an expectation of success. And perhaps it is unfair that that imminent conjecture is present in the directorial debut of Eleanor Coppola with Paris Can Wait. Which in itself is frustratingly blasé. Illuminated by it’s sparse screenplay that plays like a watered down Woody Allen impersonation, Paris Can Wait is a romance drama that severely lacks chemistry and minimal story progression. Making for a highly underwhelming debut.
The film centres on Anne (Diane Lane) who we are made to believe is at a crossroads in her life. She enjoys taking photographs of little things, as she consistently takes snaps of her food, the people she is with, the country side and what have you. Married to an always busy movie producer (Alec Baldwin), Anne sees herself given little attention when she needs it most. The pair aim to leave Cannes for some time alone in Paris, however, when her husband’s business calls, their plans are abruptly halted. Yet, she finds herself making the trip there by car with her husband’s business associate. As the two make their way to Paris, however, he has other romantic ideas than what would be intended.
The most glaring problem with Paris Can Wait is that it is insurmountably underwritten, to the point to which it becomes awkward. The film plays as bore, or perhaps, a retread of something that could have been portrayed far better. The film relies on its gorgeous backdrop and the culinary of the French landscape as a means to progress the story, yet, that is far from interesting. Because, while at first a scene given to have a dialogue-driven moment accompanied by food is fine, it tends to get repetitious when variations of that same scene are repeated several times. Simply speaking, there is only so many times you can watch someone eat.
Coppola clearly aims to coast the narrative progression as well through the charm of the actors, however, this too is hindered, as on that front, the actors have little chemistry with one another, as all exhibit questionable characterisation. The trio of Lane, Baldwin and Viard are a talent group, however, not for a moment would you engage in the notion that these three hold love for the others. The facet of romance is not developed enough to the point in which it becomes satisfying, it instead falls rather flat. Baldwin’s character is the stereotypical workaholic, Virad is the stereotypical Frenchman who only has eyes on married woman. But, most disappointingly, Lane’s character just succumbs to whatever the desires of the other characters would be. Unlikable personas are a hallmark of Paris Can Wait and the thankless roles become dull beyond compare.
These insufferable characters and non-existent plot lines makes for a film that can only muster a sense of adequacy that will be quickly forgotten. As the film feels more indulgent than it does feel an exploration of ageism or the human mind. A heavy theme that traverse throughout the duration of Paris Can Wait is the plethora of sacrifices Diane Lane’s character has had to make due to the nature of her movie producer husband’s workload. This could potentially resemble a frustration cited in director Eleanor Coppola, whose husband Francis would have undeniable been driven away due to his work. However, on this occasion, perhaps it’d be best if that ideal wasn’t explored.
Review Score: ONE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Paris Can Wait is in cinemas today.