A sunny travelogue/fantasy set in the always-ready-for-its-closeup French countryside, Eleanor Coppola’s “Paris Can Wait” is slight but charming. Its story seems to belong in a Peter Mayle book: Ann (Diane Lane), at the Cannes Film Festival with her producer husband, Michael (Alec Baldwin), can’t fly to Paris because of an ear ache; instead, she accepts a ride with her husband’s French colleague, Jacques (Arnaud Viard). The daylong trip stretches to two days, filled with lovingly photographed meals (impeccably lit cheese is practically a supporting character here) and mild flirtation.
Coppola’s been part of the film world for most of her life: She’s the wife of an Oscar winner (Francis Ford Coppola, the “Godfather” saga) and mother of another (Sofia Coppola, “Lost in Translation”), and is herself an Emmy Award winner for the documentary “Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse.” At 81, this is her first feature film, and while very little happens in “Paris Can Wait” — its dramatic highlight is the fact that Jacques and Ann, in the same day, have a delightful French-lunch-with-wine twice — it’s never less than pleasant viewing.
Much of that is due to Lane, a performer whose warmth could melt that delicious-looking French ice cream Jacques encourages her to try — three cones’ worth. (Seriously, the amount of food consumed in this movie will either make you very hungry or compel you to go lie down.) Viard delivers nicely on the standard-issue movie Frenchman — the Peugeot, the pocket square, the casual tossing-off of instruction about “the best time of year to eat young animals.” And Baldwin, employing the Jack Donaghy Pause to fine effect (if you’re not a “30 Rock” aficionado, you’ll … not know what I’m talking about), is always a welcome sight. “Paris Can Wait” isn’t exactly a feast, but it’s a snack worth having.
‘PARIS CAN WAIT’
2.5 out of 4 stars
Cast: Diane Lane, Arnaud Viard, Alec Baldwin.
Writer and director: Eleanor Coppola.
Length: 92 minutes.
Rating: PG for thematic elements, smoking and some language.