2017-06-22 / Around Town

'Paris Can Wait' Serves Up a Flat Souffle

By Loren King


Diane Lane and Arnaud Viard co-star in a light summer movie, "Paris Can Wait." Showing at the Jane Pickens Theater. Diane Lane and Arnaud Viard co-star in a light summer movie, "Paris Can Wait." Showing at the Jane Pickens Theater. There are worse ways to spend 90 minutes than watching Diane Lane eat and drink her way across the French countryside. That said, it is Diane Lane in France. One might expect something more robust than “Paris Can Wait” ultimately brings to the table.

Lane, who had a similar role in “Under the Tuscan Sun” as a disenchanted writer who tries to change her life by moving to a villa in Tuscany, plays Anne, the casually-neglected wife of successful film producer Michael (Alec Baldwin). He’s constantly fielding calls on his cell phone while she attentively packs his socks for yet another business trip. The film opens with the couple at the Cannes Film Festival as they prepare for some needed alone time in Paris, after Michael’s detour to a production location. But a bad earache keeps Anne off the small chartered plane. Michael jets off alone and Anne accepts an offer from their French friend, Jacques (Arnaud Viard), who’s one of Michael’s colleagues, to drive her to Paris in his Peugeot convertible.


Loren King is an arts and entertainment writer whose work appears regularly in The Boston Globe and other publications. Loren King is an arts and entertainment writer whose work appears regularly in The Boston Globe and other publications. The road trip that ensues is a pleasant enough journey. Jacques talks Anne into stopping along the way at small bistros and cafes where he orders elaborate dishes in French. He flirts, nicknaming her “brûlée,” for crème brûlée. She takes photos of the sumptuous scenery and food. Despite the wine that flows freely, nothing untoward happens, which makes the film both sweet and a little dull. We’re meant to see Jacques’s gentlemanly behavior as endearing, but after a while, his excesses become wearying, especially after he asks Anne for her credit card. Is he a charmer, a cad or just the cliched embodiment of the suave Frenchman with a zest for life? It’s nice to watch Anne start to loosen up enough to enjoy a picnic by the roadside and to appreciate Jacques’s interest in her. But the lack of romantic spark or any real conflict leaves little else beyond a “Globe Trekker” episode of lush scenery and exotic food.

“Paris Can Wait” is directed by Eleanor Coppola, the longtime wife of Francis Ford Coppola, and mother of Sofia, who also has a new movie out this summer (“The Beguiled”). At 81, Coppola has the inspiring distinction of being the oldest American director ever to make a dramatic feature debut. “Paris Can Wait” no doubt draws from her own story, as the wife of a famous movie-maker who spent countless months away and who forged her own career as a photographer and documentarian (she co-directed “Hearts of Darkness” in 1991 about the making of her husband’s “Apocalypse Now”).

As refreshing as it is to see a mature pair discovering the joys of dining and getting to know one another, the endless consuming of expensive food and wine becomes tedious as the road trip wears on. There’s a bit of comedy when Jacques’s car breaks down and Anne comes up with a novel fix, but it’s a moment that wouldn’t be out of place in a Lifetime movie. There’s a welcome respite when Anne and Jacques stop in Lyon to visit a museum devoted to film pioneers, the Lumiere brothers, and where Jacques reunites with an old flame. The three then venture into a textile museum where Anne, who recently closed her clothing design company, connects with her passion for fabric. But even these moments are tepid. Anne’s reaction to a lavishly detailed swatch is to ask, “Can you believe this exquisite embroidery is from the 18th century?” Yawn.

Lane gets mileage out of Anne’s bemused reactions to Jacques and perfectly inhabits her growing ease with him and with herself. Baldwin exits the action pretty early, which leaves plenty of breathing room for Lane and Viard, who do what they can with trite moments and deeper ones, such as a visit to a church just outside Paris where Anne shares with Jacques a tender story from her past. But despite the cavalcade of gastric delights, “Paris Can Wait” leaves you hungry, but not for more.

Return to top