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Review: Diane Lane anchors the breezy road movie/rom-com 'Paris Can Wait'

By: Ann Hornaday The Washington Post
June 16, 2017 Updated: June 16, 2017 at 4:40 am
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Diane Lane as Anne Lockwood and Arnaud Viard as Jacques Clement in "Paris Can Wait." MUST CREDIT: Eric Caro, Sony Pictures Classics

Starring Diane Lane, Alec Baldwin, Arnaud Viard; directed by Eleanor Coppola; 92 minutes; PG for mature thematic elements, smoking and some coarse language.

An ode to food, France, film and flirtation, "Paris Can Wait" is a creamy but not entirely disposable bonbon of a movie.

Writer-director Eleanor Coppola makes her narrative feature debut, albeit with a film not nearly as incisive or rigorous as her 1991 documentary "Hearts of Darkness," about her husband Francis Ford Coppola's struggles to make "Apocalypse Now." But viewers will no doubt detect notes of loss and even anger in a movie about the wife of a big-shot movie producer who learns to embrace her own desires during an unexpected road trip.

The fact that the film's lead character, Anne, is played by Diane Lane goes a long way in explaining its appeal. Having attended the Cannes Film Festival with her husband, Michael (played in a brief, amusing turn by Alec Baldwin), Anne is planning on a much-needed getaway for the two of them in Paris. But an ear infection keeps her from flying, and she accepts the invitation of Michael's friend and business associate Jacques (Arnaud Viard) to travel by car.

What ensues is a journey that recalls the 1967 classic "Two for the Road" and the more recent comedy "The Trip," as Jacques insists on slowing Anne down to show her the joys of eating, drinking, taking in the scenery and engaging in some harmless seduction.

"Paris Can Wait" is a handsome, Instagram-ready rom-com for a mature generation that may not photograph food as compulsively as Anne does but that will appreciate the frisson that comes from digging into a warm croissant with butter and jam.

There's no doubt that "Paris Can Wait" fairly oozes unexamined privilege and airy, let-them-eat-cake vanity. Although Viard exerts an inescapable charm as a wily, attractive epicure, his character's passive-aggressive bossiness begins to feel more than a little sexist - and creepy. Coppola herself can be as pushy and on-the-nose, making sure that when C├ęzanne or Manet are invoked, a shot of their work appears on-screen, and putting redundant dialogue in her characters' mouths while showing us images of what they're describing.

"Paris Can Wait" is a modest, genteel piece of cinematic escapism, a silky testament to sensuality as impeccably tasteful as it is utterly undemanding. One could accuse Coppola of merely making a guilty pleasure, but for the fact that she clearly believes in the cultivation of pleasure without guilt.

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