‘Paris Can Wait’ a love letter to life’s simple pleasures

12:00 a.m. Thursday, June 1, 2017 Movies & TV
Diane Lane and Arnaud Viard star in “Paris Can Wait.” Contributed by Roger Arpajou/Sony Pictures Classics

It’s unusual for a quiet, mature movie to open as the summer blockbuster season gets under way. But “Paris Can Wait,” written and directed by Eleanor Coppola (“Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse”), might be a welcome respite for older moviegoers — and even discerning younger ones.

Diane Lane stars as Anne Lockwood, a 50-something woman whose inattentive husband (Alec Baldwin) is a movie producer who takes her from Paris to Cannes to attend the annual film festival.

When it’s time to leave the festival, Anne doesn’t want to fly to Eastern Europe, where her husband’s next movie project is getting under way, in part because she has a head cold and doesn’t want to suffer ear problems. So she decides she’ll take the train back to their apartment in Paris and await her husband’s return.

Enter Jacques Clement (Arnaud Viard), a business associate of Anne’s husband. He offers to drive Anne back to Paris, and she reluctantly agrees. Anne’s not interested in cheating on her husband, as you might suspect. Instead, she finds Jacques charming, even though he eats and drinks too much.

And, wow, do they eat and drink on the road back to Paris, with multiple stops at fabulous restaurants, turning what should have been a one-day road trip into a multi-day feast and foray into the heart of French culture. As it turns out, Jacques knows just about everyone worth knowing between Cannes and Paris, and he introduces Anne to the wonders of France.

There’s more than a little tension on the road trip, however. Jacques needs to borrow money to pay for their indulgences, and Anne wonders whether she’ll get anything back. But Jacques is showing her such a good time that she willingly goes along with might turn out to be a con.

The gist of the movie is that Jacques re-introduces Anne to the joys of simple pleasures, like a good tomato or a fine glass of wine. This, in turn, gives Anne new inspiration to explore her creative side. Throughout the trip, she snaps photos, trying to make a connection between her private life and the world she’s seeing with new eyes.

As Anne, Lane makes the perfect Everywoman — sensible but willing to open up to adventure. And as Jacques, Viard seems like the typical cultured French guy who loves to eat and drink well.

If you’re looking for much action, of course, this movie is not for you. If you are, however, looking for a movie that will inspire you to explore the pleasures of a good restaurant, then this is it.

Bon appetit.