Paris Can Wait

PARIS CAN WAIT, road-trip ro­mance, rated PG, Vi­o­let Crown Cin­ema, 2 chiles

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPO -

Think of Paris Can Wait as a mod­ern take on a Doris Day-Rock Hud­son ro­mance, with­out the wit and snappy repar­tee. It’s also a road movie, a trav­el­ogue, and a gas­tro­nomic sam­pler, with a few slides of fa­mous French art­works thrown in along with a lit­tle au­to­bi­og­ra­phy.

That last part is courtesy of writer-di­rec­tor Eleanor Cop­pola, who makes her nar­ra­tive fea­ture de­but at eighty af­ter a film ca­reer that in­cludes sev­eral doc­u­men­taries chron­i­cling the be­hind-the-cam­era dra­mas of movies made by fam­ily mem­bers — most mem­o­rably, her crit­i­cally ac­claimed Hearts of Dark­ness (1991), about the apoc­a­lyp­tic film­ing of her hus­band Fran­cis Ford Cop­pola’s Apoca­lypse Now. Eleanor’s visit with Fran­cis to the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val in 2009, and a drive to Paris with a busi­ness as­so­ciate of his, pro­vided the im­pe­tus for this movie.

Anne (Diane Lane) is at Cannes with her pro­ducer hus­band, Michael (Alec Bald­win, in a role not un­like his turn in Woody Allen’s Blue Jas­mine). Plead­ing an ear­ache, she de­cides to head straight to Paris while Michael flies off to Bu­dapest on busi­ness. She plans to take the train, but Jac­ques (Ar­naud Viard), her hus­band’s pro­duc­ing part­ner, is driv­ing to Paris, and of­fers her a ride. But Jac­ques, of course, is French, and so an an­tic­i­pated seven-hour straight shot up the au­toroute (nine-and-a-half hours, ac­cord­ing to Google) turns into an op­por­tu­nity for de­tour, di­ver­sion, dis­trac­tion, and per­haps ro­mance.

Jac­ques has scarcely cleared Cannes and pointed his Peu­geot con­vert­ible north when he pulls off for lunch at a Miche­lin-rated joint. Anne protests, but not too much, and al­lows her­self to be se­duced — by wine, gourmet food, and scenery — into slow­ing down and smelling the roses.

The big question, of course, is whether she will al­low her­self to be se­duced into any­thing more — how do you say — French? This even­tu­al­ity is clearly on the mind of Jac­ques from the mo­ment he shifts the car into gear and eases onto the A7. The sit­u­a­tion quickly be­comes ap­par­ent to Anne, of course, but as a good Amer­i­can wife who was raised on canned food in Cleve­land, she is no pushover. She holds him ef­fort­lessly at bay while snap­ping end­less pic­tures with her dig­i­tal cam­era.

The trip north is rich in vis­ual re­wards, and will make you wish you could dine ev­ery night in the kind of wine-drenched epi­curean won­der­land where Jac­ques is wel­comed with hearty fa­mil­iar­ity by maîtres d’ and come-hither glances from beau­ti­ful women. But the di­a­logue, which should make the time fly by, is a bore, the French-Amer­i­can stereo­types are te­dious, and the sus­pense — will she or won’t she? — is not rich enough. — Jonathan Richards

Fan­tas­tic voy­age: Diane Lane and Alec Bald­win; inset, Lane and Ar­naud Viard

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