Tribeca Film Festival review: Paris Can Wait
There’s no age discrimination at the Tribeca Film Festival, which is one of the qualities that sets it apart from its peers.
Twenty two-year-old Quinn Shephard made her feature debut this year in the US Narrative Competition with Blame, while 81-year-old Eleanor Coppola — Emmy-award winning documentarian and wife of Francis — made her narrative directorial debut with the New York City premiere of Paris Can Wait.
The later — a Diane Lane-led romance with a brief cameo from Alec Baldwin — was one of 12 films selected for “Special Screenings” at the festival. Coppola’s fictional exploration doesn’t lack positive vibes in between its flurry of savory cuisine and impressive European scenary, but it does have the overwhelming feeling of a director making a trial run in the genre.
Lane’s Anne makes sure to capture it all — buildings, art, countryside, entrees — with her camera in case the audience needs to see it through a different lens.
What? It’s a budding hobby she has picked up in an effort to solve the midlife rut (OK, crisis) she seems to be stuck in.
The device doesn’t work.
No, not the camera; the repetitiveness. Seeing things twice — once from Coppola’s perspective and then again from Anne’s — wastes a lot of the 92 minutes we’re asked to spend with Paris Can Wait.
It’s not necessarily an execution problem cinematographically speaking: Coppola has an eye for the stationary objects she’s filming.
But that doesn’t take us as far as other films in the European romance cannon.
(Before Sunrise and Amélie are two that come to mind when thinking about ways to spend my Friday night if I’m going to fall in love.)
Credit to Arnaud Viard’s Jacques who propels the plot — if you’d like to call it that — forward, whisking Anne on a whimsical road trip while her husband (Baldwin) is called away to Budapest on business.
The chemistry never really clicks between them though no matter how hard these two talented actors try to push Coppola’s intimate script.
At first Jacques (who’s the films most developed character despite receiving third billing), comes across as a thorn in Anne’s side. After a night spent in a magnificent French hotel, that all changes rather quickly.
The dialogue over dinner was that good, I guess. Or maybe it was the room service — hot chocolate, in addition to coffee — for breakfast.
That takes us to about the midpoint of Anne and Jacques journey together — one that ends with (spoiler alert) an inevitable Parisian makeout session.
The rest of the trek divulges into a picturesque picnic (surprise: more food!) and a 10-minute stop at a cinematography museum. In case you were wondering, it’s the most interesting destination visited.
Unfortunately, Coppola opts to spend equal time on Lane trying (and spitting up) escargot.
Snails aren’t for everybody. And neither is a romance that moves at the pace of the aforementioned gastropod molluscs.
Tempo aside — things move slower over in France, I get it — Paris Can Wait’s biggest flaw is that it fails to let Lane sparkle, and doubly limits Baldwin’s presence to an opening scene riff and a few phone calls along the way.
Don’t be fooled: the star power is dim here.
That leaves the audience hungry — but not for food.