Susan Granger’s review of “Paris Can Wait” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Octogenarian Eleanor Coppola – wife of legendary director Francis Ford, mother of Sofia – has written and directed a wish-fulfillment fantasy that was inspired by her own impromptu spree from Cannes to Paris with her husband’s flirty French associate in 2009.
In Cannes on a business trip with her workaholic American film-producer husband (Alec Baldwin), Anne Lockwood (Diane Lane) develops an earache. So she forgoes flying on to Budapest with him and accepts the offer of his colleague Jacques (Arnaud Viardi) to make the seven-hour drive to a friend’s apartment in Paris.
Attentive, fun-loving Jacques manages to stretch their picturesque journey in his vintage Peugeot into a meandering, two-and-a-half day sojourn. He’s a charming raconteur and wily gourmet, who insists that they stop at every superb restaurant and scenic spot along the way, although he has to borrow Anne’s credit card to pay the bills.
Their dining ranges from a leisurely picnic to lavish fare, accompanied by the finest of wines and endless morsels of chocolate.
Anne is dazzled by the lush fields of aromatic lavender and Roman-built aqueducts, but when Jacques becomes so distracted pointing out Provence’s Mont Sainte Victoire, the mountain that inspired several of Cezanne’s paintings, he runs off the road.
Later, when Jacques insists that they visit the birthplace of cinema, Place Lumiere in Lyon, Anne realizes that the docent is one of his many former lovers. That opens up an interesting conversation as they begin to reveal their personal lives.
An avid photographer, Anne digitally documents what interests her and ignites her passion, as she slowly emerges from a dutiful, complacent wife role into a greater understanding of her own individuality and creativity.
Delectable Diane Lane evokes memories of “Under the Tuscan Sun” and Michael Winterbottom’s “The Trip,” along with foodie fests: “Like Water for Chocolate,” “Marie Antoinette” and “Babette’s Feast.”
Although she won an Emmy for the documentary “Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse,” this lighthearted romance is writer/director Eleanor Coppola’s first feature film,
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Paris Can Wait” is a slight, yet savory 6, serving up sumptuously seductive cuisine.