Imagine being married to a rich workaholic. Pros: jet-setting, fancy hotels, fancier jewellery. Cons: he’s so busy that quality time is a joke. Then his business partner Jacques (Arnaud Viard), a Frenchman entrusted to drive you through the beautiful French countryside to Paris, tries to subtly wine-dine-69 you – but in a charming, middle-aged kind of way.
Do you go for it, given the dearth of pleasure in your life? What good is being rich, after all, if one can’t share the finer things?
That’s the question Paris Can Wait asks its protagonist, Anne (Diane Lane), an intelligent, refined American woman who acts more like a personal assistant than a wife to her producer husband, Michael (Alec Baldwin).
What should be a simple day trip becomes an extended two-day gourmand extravaganza, as the hedonistic Jacques shows off his country to Anne – fine dining here, a museum visit there, and oh, why not stay the night at an ornate boutique hotel?
Though his wallet is conveniently MIA, Jacques assures a skeptical Anne she’ll be reimbursed for their excursion. Lane is as perfectly cast here as she was in Under The Tuscan Sun, another wealthy-lifestyle-porn flick.
Paris Can Wait is directed by Eleanor Coppola, better known for her documentaries about her famous husband’s and daughter’s filmmaking, like Hearts Of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse.
Her first fiction feature has obvious autobiographical references (the showbiz titan husband and wealthy Parisian lifestyle), and Anne’s emotions feel authentic, recreating what it’s like to live in the shadow of a world-famous career.
Paris Can Wait revels in its embarrassment of riches in the French countryside, but the mature perspective of the 81-year-old Coppola gives the film an emotional gravitas and a cliché-free depiction of a middle-aged affair.
That’s a rare beauty indeed.