June 4, 2018

Paris Can Wait (2016)

Diane Lane, Arnaud Viard, Alec Baldwin


It's like someone watched Under the Tuscan Sun and thought, 'let's make that movie, but worse!' As a fair warning, this review will contain spoilers, but not really because this movie is so terrible the ending doesn't even matter.

In the #MeToo era, this movie could be used as a lesson on consent because while it's framed as a romantic movie, it's anything but. A plot summary: Diane Lane is married to perpetual asshole, Alec Baldwin. They play their roles to a T, two the two of them well-versed in these exact characters: Baldwin, the neglectful, self-centered husband, and Lane, the quietly-suffering wife. Enter: Viard, Baldwin's work colleague and notorious womanizer.

So blah, blah, blah, circumstances separate Baldwin and Lane, who agrees to go on a road trip with her husband's co-worker. This is where Under the Tuscan Sun comes in, as half the movie is just cinematography of French countryside and closeups of Diane Lane eating or taking photographs (because of course, she's a budding photographer! No, this movie isn't trying too hard to be artsy, what do you mean?). It's a very quiet movie, but not in a good way. The only thing that kept me awake was waiting for the inevitable come-on from Viard and Lane's brutal refusal. What can I say? I love to see overconfident men get shot down.

Alas, this movie couldn't even deliver that. No no, after days of Viard's manipulations - unplanned stops, refusals to continue driving, and even unprompted stories of how Lane's husband had been unfaithful to her - she falls for him? 

This is not how it works. Or at least, this is not how it should work. Romantic comedies, while generally unrealistic, should at least be a fantasy escape for the viewer. It should not be a cringe-inducing two hours of a man covertly badgering a woman to fall for him and her actually doing it. It should not be a woman substituting one crappy man for another, almost as terrible one. JUST BECAUSE HE GIVES HER ATTENTION DOESN'T MEAN HE'S BETTER. Lane and Baldwin are married something like 22 years in the movie - do you really think she's going to be seduced by some guy she's known for 3 days because he shared a meal with her? Come on. Anyone that's been married that long knows that initial attraction fades, and this new guy is just as likely as her current husband to ignore her in a few years.

This is not to say she should stay with her self-centered husband. Nor is it to even say she shouldn't kiss the new guy. I'm not here to judge morals. What I am saying is that it makes for a terrible movie for the manipulations of one man to be the entire storyline. Let them have a torrid affair. Let him die off. Let her slap him across the face. I don't really care. JUST DON'T END IT LIKE SHE'S GOTTEN A HAPPILY EVER AFTER WITH SOME DUDE AFTER 3 DAYS. That's some real teenage shit, except everyone in the movie is in their fifties. It's just embarrassing.

At the end of the day, I know Diane Lane has the tendency to do these flighty, terrible romantic dramedies (Must Love Dogs, Nights in Rodanthe), but I still want more from her. She's a better actress than this and I deserve better. 

Final word: No.

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