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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, 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 centers 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. Anne’s view of the world finds it difficult to cope with Jacques’ nonchalant and romantic manner, but she eventually warms to the appealing food and spirit of the Frenchman. Things change once again once she comes to realize 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 seem convinced that Baird is the one for her. The veteran French thespian is comical and embodies all things French with his demeanor 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 the passion that should heat up the theater and here, things remain lukewarm 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.