Particularly in this golden age of television, when it would be unfair to assume a TV show may have less cinematic value than any given film, the boundaries between mediums are steadily becoming more and more blurred. What even is a film?
Earlier this year, the Oscars decided that an eight hour televised documentary could count, but even that comes a lot closer to the definition of ‘film’ than Paris Can Wait, which barely registers as anything at all, let alone a piece of cinema. There are images on screen, with sound to accompany them, and it’s all tossed together to comprise a rough feature length, but that’s about as far as it goes.
But who could blame Eleanor Coppola? Being the wife of Francis Ford, mother of Sofia and relative to so many other cinematic icons (as well as having directed the legendary Apocalypse Now documentary Hearts of Darkness), she has the agency to make whatever film she wants, and it seems that this time, what she wanted was to bring a camera and mic along on her vacation with Diane Lane and some French dude (aka Arnaud Viard). You can sense the crew waiting just out of frame to join in during all of the film’s countless scenes of fine dining.
I don’t imagine that anybody who worked on Paris Can Wait much cared whether or not anyone would end up watching it. It’s slight enough that the idea could have been conceived, written, shot and edited within the span of about a month.
Structureless and aimless to a fault, we follow Anne as she travels to Paris with the rich, charming and very French friend of her film director husband (Alec Baldwin, there and gone in a minute). It is only factual to state that nothing happens in the film that follows, either textually, subtextually, romantically or emotionally. All that there is to witness is a lot of food consumption and just generally being very, very rich. And when I say very, I mean very.
Apart from a brief and bizarre attempt to add tragedy to Anne’s past (which is never subsequently revisited or used to add context to her actions), the film aims for nothing higher than utter vapidity. It’s almost commendable.
There isn’t an ounce of skill or effort to behold in Paris Can Wait, but everyone who worked on it seems to have made peace with that.
It hasn’t anything to offer – not humour, drama, character or fun – but they don’t seem to care. There are no ill intentions here, an so it’s impossible to hate this film which is thinner than the finest tissue paper. I can’t get mad that it exists, because I’m having a hard time convincing myself that it does.
Yes, factually, I sat down in a cinema for 90 minutes and watched Paris Can Wait.
There are witnesses to prove it. I even have a ticket as physical evidence. But my brain refuses to register it as anything but a dream, a wisp lost into the ether. After I finish writing this final line, it shall never cross my mind again.
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