I am a director, playwright, and theatre critic with a Masters in Writing for Performance. You can check out my my portfolio and musings at www.samsaradunston.blogspot.com.au
Published June 30th 2017
Food, wine and other French sensory delights abound
Winter can be a gloomy time but Paris Can Wait is a wonderful way to have your dream French vacation without having to pack your bags or be trapped in a plane for 24 hours. With a release date of 20 July, you can prepare for your odyssey through the regions of France by visiting your local French restaurant, enjoying a rich bordeaux and exploring art galleries for a glimpse of impressionist art. Oh, and don't forget to look at all those food pix on Instagram!
Starring Diane Lane (Anne) and Arnaud Viard (Jacques), with Alec Baldwin giving an intriguing cameo as Anne's husband (Michael) this delightful picaresque journey is just like sitting down to one of those long, leisurely French meals with multiple courses and a wine to match every dish. You won't just get to enjoy food though. Director Eleanor Coppola delights all the senses with music, art, photography, textiles, scenery and conversation.
The story is quite a simple - but then so is sitting down to dinner. Micheal is a work-obsessed film producer who has been meeting with his co-producer Jacques at the Cannes Film Festival. His wife Anne has come along to spend time with her husband but every moment together is constantly interrupted by his barking phone.
It is evident from the beginning of the movie Micheal has stopped seeing Anne. In subconscious reaction, she has become photo obsessed and delights in taking innumerable photographs of the tiniest details of the world. Standing on the hotel room balcony it is not the panorama she snaps, it is the partially eaten croissant on the plate.
Anne is having trouble with her ears but Micheal doesn't notice. On the way to the airport to plane hop to Paris, it is Jacques who sees her discomfort and has them stop to buy food for the trip and drops for her ears. When they get to the airport the pilot notices as well and recommends she does not fly. The first surprise of the film is the thoughtless ease with which Michael agrees to letting her drive across France with Jacques whom she has only just met. The number of potential narratives which popped into my head (a few of them evidently also occurring to Lane) is a testament to our troubled times.
Paris Can Wait is not a thriller though. Nor is it a horror movie. Travelling through Lyons and across Burgundy exploring the food, the scenery and the myriad of specialist museums which populate the landscape of France a trip which should take 7 hours meanders across 2 days with Anne a supposedly unwilling passenger.
Apparently coerced into indulging in the gastronomic delights of French cuisine and wine beyond measure Anne (whom Jacques comes to call Brulee after the delightful creamy desert with a thin, brittle, charred crust) protests and objects with much frequency yet very little force. Ironically, the more Michael questions the trip, the more Anne relaxes into it. In typical male behaviour, Michael starts seeing her once another man starts looking as well.
Introducing her to a range of sensory delights, Jacques is undoubtedly inviting her to take her explorations even further. As he says constantly throughout the film though, she should take what she wants and stop when she wants. The question raised by the film is whether she will want to stop at all?
This is Coppola's first narrative film. Her career has tended to be documentaries surrounding the work of the more famous family members. This history is evident in the investigative structure of the film, but in this case, it really suits the exploration of the joys and aesthetics of the French. The movie suggests we take time to smell the strawberries and get back in touch with what pleases us rather than focusing on what we must do. Anne's lessons are about to be passed on the Micheal I suspect...