“Paris Can Wait,” straight from the international film festival circuit, takes audiences on a culinary road trip through the French countryside. It sounds great until you quickly realize that you’d have been better off just staying at home.
Diane Lane is Anne, the wife of busy Hollywood movie producer Michael (Alec Baldwin). When he has to fly off to Hungary to put out fires on a film set, Anne decides to tag along on a road trip with charming assistant Jacques (Arnaud Viard). Of course, Jacques has other plans as he attempts to seductively woo Anne with a drawn out drive and plenty of fine French food and wine.
Foodie movies can be fun and road trip movies even more so, but not when they’re as poorly executed as this. Writer / director Eleanor Coppola, wife of Francis, has zero sense of style and timing, which leads to an uninteresting and tiresome movie. There are copious monotonous scenes of Anne taking a tiny bite of food, looking straight ahead, and saying “mmmm.” No, really. That’s the type of writing that counts as a substantial moment for the character.
Coppola isn’t skilled at filming food beautifully either, misusing her lens to quickly glance by plate after plate of creamy Brie, buttery escargot, and roasted lamb. Foodies want to see the food; I was yelling internally for her to “show me the cheese!” The film is definitely reminiscent of a low budget tourist ad for the French countryside, but it’s not even a good showcase for the beauty of the country or her cuisine. Think of it as a Food Network show for lonely-heart housewives that’s one step away from cancellation.
The biggest issue I have with the movie is that while its target audience is obviously female, Anne is almost completely defined by her husband. She just sits in the passenger seat while the man calls all the shots in quite the anti-feminist way. If this film is meant to be a journey of self discovery or a whirlwind torrid romance, it fails miserably and instead feels more like she’s a subordinate riding along in a powerful man’s world.
This flat travelogue also has a ridiculous, loosey-goosey “plot” and some of the worst dialogue of the year. Sit back and wait for gems like “it’s incredible” and “driving is the only way to see a country.” This project reeks of failed mumblecore, and you can tell the actors know it. The performances are bland and flavorless, the two leads have zero chemistry, zero motivation, and zero conflict — and it all comes back to the film’s lack of story line.