Tribeca Film Festival Review: ‘Paris Can Wait’ Is a Delightful Culinary Trip Through France
If you are a food and wine connoisseur or simply just a foodie — and you love to travel — then don’t miss Paris Can Wait. Written and directed by Eleanor Coppola — wife of Francis Ford — this marks her directorial and screenwriting debut at the age of 81. The film, which screened at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, is a love letter to the culinary delights and sights of France. It has a charming story as its backdrop that was inspired by a similar experience Coppola had in 2009.
The story begins with long married couple Anne (Diane Lane) and Michael (Alec Baldwin) at the Cannes Film Festival hoping to spend some quality time together on their way to Paris. Except Michael is an industrious movie producer — attached to his phone busy making overseas movie deals — and Anne seems to be there as a quiet distraction. When Michael is called for an important meeting to Budapest, she can’t join him on the flight due to an ear infection. The gallant Frenchman and Michael’s business partner Jacques (Arnaud Viard) offers to drive her to Paris in his convertible vintage Peugeot.
Jacques, who has an infectious joie de vivre, uses this chauffeured opportunity to wine and dine Anne through the beautiful French countryside. A seven-hour drive becomes a two-day tour stopping in different towns along the way for a delectable meal at the finest restaurants. Jacques knows everything about the food and the wine they are being served and describes it in detail to Anne before they take a sip or a bite. Even if you’re not a fan of French food, your mouth will water at the presentation of the five-course meals they indulge in, topped off with a trough of cheeses and chocolate crème brulee.
Diane Lane is so effortless and easy on the eyes in the role of this woman, who we come to see is starving for adventure after 20 years of marriage. Arnaud Viard has an infectious twinkle in his eye and fits the stereotype of just how charismatic the French can be. Michael checks in every now and then in voiceover by phone to catch her up with his business dealings and caution her of Jacques’ romantic wiles. Baldwin’s voice is so distinct it seemed like the role was written for him when in fact he came on board after the original actor playing Michael dropped out.
In the press notes, Coppola recalled, “I was desperate.”
As fate would have it, the phone rang and it was Alec Baldwin calling to ask Francis Coppola for a favor. The director asked Baldwin for an urgent favor of his own.
Throughout their journey, Jacques’ philosophy to “follow your passion as guilt is bad for the digestion,” begins to soften Anne’s affection for him. Jacques listens to her — hanging on her every word — which can be very seductive. When Anne says roses are her favorite flower, Jacques fills the car with dozens of them just so she could smell the aroma as they drive. Talk about romantic.
Paris Can Wait is also a postcard to France as you experience the picturesque sights and tourist attractions along with Anne on their bucolic detour to Paris by cinematographer Crystel Fournier. The location manager must have had quite the time scouting the locations which are Alpes-Maritimes, Aix en Provence, Bouches-du-Rhone, and Lauris and Cadenet in Vaucluse.
If a trip to France isn’t in your immediate future — or your budget — then Paris Can Wait might be just the ticket.