Tuesday, May 23, 2017

PARIS CAN WAIT (2017)

Written & Directed by Eleanor Coppola


Where & When; Arclight Cinemas, Hollywood, CA. May 12. 2017 7:30 PM



The last time I saw Diane Lane on the big screen, she was being tortured (her character and her career) as Clark Kent's mother, Martha in the bombastic "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice". I was saddened thinking how this incredibly vibrant and sensual actress was being utterly wasted in this insignificant role that was way, way beneath her. Hollywood has never known what to do with Ms Lane as she has matured and while she had one great moment as a wife who has an adulterous affair with a younger stranger in "Unfaithful" which earned her a well-deserved 2002 Oscar nomination, most of her film appearances have been minor supporting parts.

With Eleanor Coppola, making her feature film directing debut at the age of eighty-one, she has offered Diane Lane  a-long-time-in-coming substantial role in her romantic-drama, "Paris Can Wait" where she is properly front and center. While this lightweight film is hardly perfect. it is certainly a step in the right direction.

Ms Lane plays Anne, the wife of Michael (Alec Baldwin), a successful Hollywood producer. She had tagged along with her husband on a business trip to the Cannes Film Festival before heading to Paris for a romantic getaway. Michael has to make an unplanned flight to Budapest before they head to the city of lights but Anne, who is suffering from a severe earache, decides to go straight to Paris by train. However, Jacques (Arnaud Viard), Michael's friend and French business partner, offers to drive his wife to Paris. Anne reluctantly agrees to go on the eight-hour road trip with this virtual stranger.

Despite his bad driving and her protests to just get to Paris, Anne can't help getting swept up in his joie de vivre, escorting her to wonderful scenic views along the countryside and making stops for leisurely fine dining and conversation. Even when Jacques makes arrangements to stay at a hotel due to the late hour, Anne's concern quickly evaporates as he remains a gentleman by getting them separate rooms.

First seen as a sweet, talkative guy, Jacques eventually reveals himself to be more of a typical French lothario who has more on his mind besides simply providing taxi service to this lovely married woman. It doesn't take long for Anne to catch on herself yet doesn't mind the amorous attention, realizing it's been quite awhile since her husband has paid her this much romantic exuberance.

Mrs. Coppola has spent most of her career creating non-narrative films, mostly behind-the-scenes features of her husband's films with the most notable being "Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse", which examined the turmoil during the making of "Apocalypse Now". While not much of a great surprise, this Coppola shares more of a film making style with her daughter, Sofia than her husband, Francis Ford. With "Paris Can Wait", she has created a breezy, intimate adult drama that American cinema no longer embraces but is still quite popular in Europe. Between the gorgeous scenery and the delicious looking food, this story focuses on two isolated souls trying to keep a brave front before allowing their guard to come down enough to make an emotional connection, confessing to each other their secret pain and loss. But the director's script drags down the film with uninspired dialogue and repetitive moments.

Thankfully, Ms Lane uplifts the movie with a warm and effective performance. Mrs. Coppola was quite familiar with her gifts as she has watched the actress grow-up from her early screen appearances as a young woman in her husband's films, "The Outsiders", "Rumble Fish" and "The Cotton Club" that helped launch Ms Lane's career. It's fascinating to watch her Anne, who may not necessarily want to end her marriage, blossom from a frustrated wife to a sensual woman having her eyes opened to other possibilities in her life.

It's hard not to see a few parallels between these characters and Mrs Coppola's own glamorous, movie business filled life but her motivation is definitely much smaller in scale and scope. The charming yet inessential "Paris Can Wait" is about slowing down, appreciating those precious moments with loved ones and enjoying the simple pleasures in life.