Paris Can Wait

Wife of famed Oscar winning director Frances Ford Coppola, Eleanor makes her writing and directorial debut at SXSW with Paris Can Wait. “I got a screenwriting program for my computer. Then I took a directing and acting class,” she casually admitted. The 80-year-old had an experience very similar to what we see happen in the course of the film. She explained her friends encouraged her to write a screenplay after hearing about her excursion. The results are a very beautiful road trip through the French countryside that captures moments rarely seen on film. “There are no explosions, car chases or superheroes in my movie,” she joked. Paris Can Wait could even be a bookend to Lane’s Italian adventure Under the Tuscan Sun. It’s an appetizing drama filled with food, wine and conversation that will leave the viewer ready to travel.

Following the conclusion of her husband’s business at the Cannes Film Festival, Anne Lockhart (Lane) decides not to fly on the private plane with her husband Michael to Budapest. Instead their French chauffeur friend Jacques (Viard), volunteers to personally drive Anne from Cannes to Paris where she will meet Michael. “I like to stop every hour or so,” he admits once they are on the road. What was supposed to be a quick drive, instead turns into a sightseeing adventure through history, lavender fields, and French cuisine. “Let’s pretend we don’t know where were going or who we are,” he suggests. Anne’s apprehension of traveling with a stranger quickly fades as they get to know each other on the journey.

Feel as if you have started reading a travel magazine article and been pulled into the page.

Lane is a great choice here, she has such a classic beauty about her and reacts to situations in a way that feels like you are watching your own mother on screen. She’s the catalog-esque every-woman. The movie pulls the viewer into the expedition not overwhelming the screen with iconic French sites, instead opting for unfamiliar landmarks. Go into this film with a full stomach, otherwise you will be starving afterwards as their frequent meals are showcased in great detail. Even a pretty cute running joke that Jacques can’t stop eating. Anne’s character takes photos along the way, actually she is Instagraming, she just doesn’t know it. The photos make the viewer feel as if they have started reading travel magazine article and been pulled into the page. It’s more like a Travel Channel show, but with a narrative behind it.

The pacing isn’t for those expecting some prepackaged dramatic romance, this isn’t Bridges of Madison County. Relaxation is what you feel more than anything when it reaches the conclusion. Arnaud Viard delivers a Jean Dujardin type performance that’s charismatically on key to sweep Anne off her feet. Yet this isn’t a love story, at least not in the traditional sense Hollywood sense. It’s more like an adult expression-of-age film that celebrates life and culture. Elanor Coppola is a great storyteller, even from the films brief introduction, it became clear she knew how to express herself and bring the audience into her world. Paris Can Wait is a delightful change of pace from the loud, fast, and insular films of SXSW, despite it’s appeal for a very specific audience.

Final Thought

Coppola redefines the road trip for American cinema.


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