Nudity. Violence. Car chases. Drugs. Swearing. Paris Can Wait has none of these.
In the new era of Hollywood, a movie without any of the above mentioned is a tough sell. It won’t appeal to the goldfish attention span/Netflix generation and it certainly won’t get by on its over the top 3D action sequences.
However, certain films inspire achievable wanderlust, then magnify it through sensory closeups and breathtaking aerial shots. The Hundred Foot Journey comes to mind, and Paris Can Wait takes a similar tone.
Eleanor Coppola’s feature film debut, at the youthful age of 81, is a whimsical feast of food, culture and scenery, that plays like a moving advertisement for France. Think gorgeous shots of European countryside, sumptuous meals and jazzy music that conjures up a lazy Sunday in Paris.
This film has all those aesthetic qualities, resting upon the story of Anne, a restless woman (Diane Lane) with empty nest syndrome and a dwindling marriage to a busy movie producer (Alec Baldwin). Anne needs to get from Cannes to Paris, with an ear infection stopping her from flying there. Cue the carefree assistant Jacque (Arnaud Viard), part chaffeur, part comic relief and part sage to get her there. Delivering such gems as ‘They are Pop Tarts. You are chocolate Creme Brûlée!’ when Anne compares herself to younger women, Jacque is a breath of fresh air to Anne’s passionless world. Through that pleasing and familiar format of the cinematic road trip, it pieces together grand themes of mortality, marriage, family, and human’s hazy search for meaning.
The film enables the viewer to experience France from bottom to top, not the other way around. You see the in between bits of travel that often get glossed over, such as the gas stations, as well as the spectacular churches and museums. That nice mix of highbrow and lowbrow that every travel experience has. And when you do finally see the clichéd glistening Eiffel Tower at night, it is magnificent.
If you ever just wanted to vicariously hop on a plane, eat decadent pieces of brie cheese, melon and prosciutto and drink wine from the finest French vineyards, this film is the vehicle to do it with. There are no high speed car chases, drug busts or gun shots, and it won’t get your adrenaline going, but it will make you want to book a flight afterwards. And those are the best kind of films, transporting you to a place that is at once real and tangible, but also beautifully unattainable, confined to the pristine lens of cinema.
A touch of sadness, a hint of art house cinematography, a dash of European humour and a whole lot of travel envy, combine to make a winning film.