Diane Lane an­chors breezy ‘Paris Can Wait’

Film fo­cuses on joys of eat­ing, drink­ing, tak­ing in the scenery

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - ANN HORNADAY

An ode to food, France, film and flir­ta­tion, “Paris Can Wait” is a creamy but not en­tirely dis­pos­able bon­bon of a movie.

Writer-di­rec­tor Eleanor Cop­pola makes her nar­ra­tive fea­ture de­but here, al­beit with a film not nearly as in­ci­sive or rig­or­ous as her 1991 doc­u­men­tary “Hearts of Dark­ness,” about her hus­band Fran­cis Ford Cop­pola’s strug­gles to make “Apoc­a­lypse Now.” But view­ers will no doubt de­tect notes of loss and even anger in a movie about the wife of a big-shot movie pro­ducer who learns to em­brace her own de­sires dur­ing an un­ex­pected road trip.

The fact that the film’s lead char­ac­ter, Anne, is played by Diane Lane goes a long way in ex­plain­ing its ap­peal. Hav­ing at­tended the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val with her hus­band, Michael (played in a brief, amus­ing turn by Alec Bald­win), Anne is plan­ning on a much-needed get­away for just the two of them in Paris. But an ear in­fec­tion keeps her from fly­ing, and she ac­cepts the in­vi­ta­tion of Michael’s friend and busi­ness as­so­ciate Jac­ques (Ar­naud Viard) to travel by car.

What en­sues is a jour­ney that re­calls the 1967 classic “Two for the Road” and the more re­cent com­edy “The Trip,” as Jac­ques in­sists on slow­ing Anne down to show her the joys of eat­ing, drink­ing, tak­ing in the scenery and en­gag­ing in some harm­less se­duc­tion. “Paris Can Wait” is a hand­some, In­sta­gram­ready rom-com for a ma­ture gen­er­a­tion that may not pho­to­graph food as com­pul­sively as Anne does but who will ap­pre­ci­ate the fris­son that comes from dig­ging into a warm crois­sant with but­ter and jam.

There’s no doubt that “Paris Can Wait” fairly oozes un­ex­am­ined priv­i­lege and airy, let-them-eat-cake van­ity. Al­though Viard ex­erts an in­escapable charm as a wily, at­trac­tive epi­cure, his char­ac­ter’s pas­sive-ag­gres­sive bossi­ness be­gins to feel more than a lit­tle sex­ist — and creepy. Cop­pola her­self can be just as pushy and on-the-nose, mak­ing sure that when Cézanne or Manet are in­voked, a shot of their work ap­pears on­screen, and putting re­dun­dant di­a­logue in her char­ac­ters’ mouths while show­ing us images of what they’re de­scrib­ing.

But as self-in­dul­gent and ba­nal as the food, wine and chit-chat can feel, Lane in­fuses “Paris Can Wait” with her sig­na­ture self-aware­ness and off­hand glam­our, from the way she moves in her per­fectly neu­tral wardrobe to her more flus­tered re­sponses to Jac­ques’ amorous at­ten­tions.

There are mo­ments when Cop­pola’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy gives way to out­right nepo­tism: It’s surely no ac­ci­dent that her son-in-law’s band, Phoenix, is promi­nently fea­tured on the sound­track. But dur­ing an­other in­ter­lude, when one of the char­ac­ters brings up a lost son, the film­maker’s real-life story echoes with gen­uine poignancy.

“Paris Can Wait” is a mod­est, gen­teel piece of cin­e­matic es­capism, a silky tes­ta­ment to sen­su­al­ity as im­pec­ca­bly tasteful as it is ut­terly un­de­mand­ing. To use Jac­ques’ and Anne’s own lex­i­con, when they dis­cuss the mer­its of youth and beauty, it’s not as cheap as a Pop-Tart, but it’s not quite a choco­late crème brûlée, ei­ther. One could ac­cuse Cop­pola of merely mak­ing a guilty plea­sure, but for the fact that she clearly be­lieves in the cul­ti­va­tion of plea­sure with­out guilt.

ERIC CARO, SONY PICTURES CLAS­SICS

Diane Lane and Ar­naud Viard in “Paris Can Wait.” This film is plea­sure with­out guilt.

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