FilmReview

Review: ‘Paris Can Wait’ is an Unfortunate Mess

Jacqueline Gualtieri ’17/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Upon attending a press screening of Paris Can Wait, there were only four people in the audience. 25 percent of the audience fell asleep and, to be perfectly honest, it was almost 50 percent. Perhaps that is how Paris Can Wait should be billed: as the cure for insomnia.

In this insufferable vanity film, Diane Lane plays Anne, the wife of a big time producer who just never seems to have time for her anymore. When husband Michael (Alec Baldwin) is whisked away to solve a problem on his film’s set, Anne finds herself traveling to Paris without her husband, in the company of his friend and coworker, Jacques (Arnaud Viard).

While it is, beyond doubt, interesting and exciting to actually attend all of the beautiful places that Anne is taken to by Jacques on their journey to the city of lights, watching other people go there in a movie, accompanied by such riveting dialogue as “Wow!” and “Pretty!” is much less interesting. Make no mistake, the setting of the film is beautiful. Director Eleanor Coppola does do a fairly good job of capturing the beautiful sights of the French countryside. Unfortunately, the setting is nearly the only positive thing that can be said about the film.

Alec Baldwin and Diane Lane in Paris Can Wait. Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Classics. 

Anne is a mix between a childish schoolgirl and a Stepford wife, with little personality beyond that. She smiles her way through the film and giggles into the phone when her friend asks if Jacques is “adorable.” Anne is what happens when a manic pixie dream girl is written as the main character. She’s a former dress shop owner who likes fabric, who for some reason knows how to fix a car despite having no prior experience, and is a great photographer but her “thing” is to only take pictures of details rather than the big picture, a heavy handed metaphor for the whole message of the movie being to “stop and live in the moment.” And yet when she is congratulated on anything that she does, she smiles and blushes and refuses the compliment. Her main vice is chocolate. And she puts up with every little thing Jacques does, with a smile and a laugh.

Anne tells her 18 year old daughter that she has to take charge sometimes because boys get scared of making the first move and yet Anne never takes charge of anything, more than happy to sit back when Jacques orders for her or tells her that he needs her credit card or leaves her stranded at a gas station. She just smiles and shrugs her way through the movie, never wanting to cause a fuss. And yet, for some reason, Jacques says that she opened his eyes to a whole new world. Even as the supposed main character, Anne is nothing more than a way for a playboy to supposedly redeem himself, by falling in love with and attempting to seduce a married woman and exposing all the flaws in her marriage. Because somehow that’s what the audience is supposed to believe: this French playboy is redeemable because he convinces the married woman that she’d be happier having an affair.

Jacques is little more than a French stereotype. He starts out kind of fun. He takes her on trips and convinces her to stop and smell the roses. Then he takes her to dinner and  tells her that Americans are so prude when it comes to marriage because they don’t let themselves enjoy their base desires, ie. affairs. Then he tells her a story that would clearly upset her, about her husband giving a gold watch to a girl who was desperate for a part in his movie one time. He happily flirts his way through France with Anne, who doesn’t so much as flirt back but just sits there and does nothing about it, repeatedly calling her husband who reminds her that Frenchmen really can’t be trusted with married women. It’s rather infuriating that Jacques plays the exact character that Michael is trying to paint him as: a man who just wants to get in married women’s pants because apparently that what all Frenchmen do.

For being only 92 minutes, Paris Can Wait feels like it’s hours longer than it should be. It’s  an overdrawn story about a woman who decides that her love life stinks, despite the fact that she never makes the complaint herself. She just nods while Jacques tells her everything that’s wrong with her life. Never mind the fact that Michael tells her constantly how much he misses her, that he wants to quit his job, that he’d rather be with her and even ultimately makes the decision that he’d like leave his job for a while to spend more time with her. He’s painted as the non-loving husband and not given enough screen time to even try to redeem himself. He’s used as a catalyst to move Anne’s story along, even though she’s still not allowed to make any of her own decisions as Jacques constantly backs her into a corner (occasionally literally). All three characters don’t have enough personality put together to create one decent lead. They are stereotypes with not much else going on: the absent husband, the French playboy, and the bored housewife. What category Paris Can Wait is in is up to interpretation. Is it a rom-com? Maybe not, because it’s definitely not funny. Is it a drama? It’s not all that dramatic either. Is it just a pure romance? Jacques and Anne’s relationship is pretty unromantic, too dull and frustrating to make an audience care about if they love each other or not. What we do know that it is, apparently, is that it’s a great movie to nap through.

Overall Grade: D-

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