The combination of the foodie genre, road trip and romantic comedy seemingly provide all of the elements for a winning recipe for cinematic gold. For director Eleanor Coppola to include Diane Lane (Under the Tuscan Sun), the proven rom-com queen to come along for this European culinary adventure, the journey has the earmarks for a winner. Especially with the final artistic touch of the couple riding through the beauty of the French countryside, Paris Can Wait seems to have all the elements needed for a wonderful romantic ride.
Michael (Alec Baldwin) is an American film producer whose life centres on putting out the proverbial fires on the set of his latest production. The drama that is occurring behind the camera on the latest location in Budapest has put him on edge, which does not bode well for his French holiday plans with his wife, Anne (Lane). He has to fly to Hungary to work out the issues with his director and wants his spouse to join him, but she is unable to fly due to an ear infection. They resolve to finish their vacation by meeting up in Paris after he resolves the issues in Budapest. Reservedly, Michael agrees to have his business partner, Jacques (Arnaud Viard) drive Anne to the French capital. Within moments of their unique road trip beginning, the differences in American and French cultures become apparent. At first, Anne’s time-sensitive background and puritanical view of the world finds it difficult to cope with Jacque’s nonchalant and romantic manner. Still his unabashed love of the cuisine and architecture in this historical area of the world becomes contagious. Eventually, Anne warms to the appealing food and spirit of the Frenchman, but then comes to realise that he has ulterior amorous motives planned for their drive through the European countryside.
This romantic journey through the country contains all of the right elements, but something is very wrong in the kitchen. Coppola may be married to a film-making legend, but she lacks the same finesse for cooking up an appealing story. The over slow pace fails to deliver the charm needed for the audience to be seduced into believing that this couple should be together. Lane has the cinematic track record and the necessary beauty to continue to be convincing in this genre, but she does not seemed convinced that Baird is the one for her. The veteran French thespian is comical and embodies all things French with his demeanour and style, but is not convincing as a romantic lead. He continually seems to have the attitude that his heritage should be enough for his co-star to be drawn into his arms, yet this is never truly convincing.
For a romantic comedy to work, the chemistry between the lead characters needs to ooze with passion that should heat up the theatre and here, things remain luke-warm at best. It is disappointing that Paris Can Wait was unable to spark a fire within this genre. Eleanor Coppola brought together a fantastic mix of actors and settings, but she was unable to get this tale to rise to the occasion.
REEL DIALOGUE: What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?
Being faithful in a marriage, this tends to be at the heart of many romantic comedies and dramas. The marriage relationship provides a multitude of options for great drama, comedy and romance. This is how God had intended things from the establishment of marriage between a man and woman.
Passages within the Bible talk of ‘a man leaving his father and his mother and holding fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.’ and ‘to rejoice in the wife of your youth, allowing her to breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.’ Yes, that is in the Bible.
Romance is meant to be at the heart of a relationship and God did not limit this love, but gave the parameters for this love to flourish. He had beautiful and passionate intentions for marriage that go well beyond procreation and cohabitation. To remain faithful within this God-given relationship should not be seen as restrictive, but a means of keeping the fire burning for your spouse.
Passages to consider: Genesis 2:22-25, Proverbs 5:18-19, Proverbs 31
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