A quintessential romantic break movie from another of the Coppola film family. Eleanor Coppola, wife of famous director Francis Ford Coppola, mother of Sofia Coppola (actress, writer, director) and aunt of Nicolas Cage decided to take the plunge to write and direct this movie at age 80. Sure she had short film experience directing, has also written and acted, and has been in the business for a long time but this is her first feature long movie and she did well.
The movie is an unpretentious light romance, not a full romantic movie because as you will see, it's about romancing more than it is about romance. There's a difference and if you must know the nuance between the two, the former is an engaging interlude between two people and what could be if the conditions were right while the latter is when two people develop a mutual attraction that leads to the inevitable love affair and maybe more.
That being said, what is delightful about this movie is, to put it simply, the characters, Anne, played by the queen of romanic movies Diane Lane, and Jacques, played by Arnaud Viard. Then there is France, food and wine, the supporting element-characters. Alec Baldwin plays the supporting role of Michael, a busy movie producer-director, Anne's husband. Baldwin in an interview I recall said he loved playing supporting roles, short performances and prided himself in becoming a celebrity doing exactly that, not that he hasn't performed main or principal characters, he has, but these roles, supporting ones, in good movies appeared to give him the satisfaction of participating in more movies and in good ones without the pressures or responsibility that come with carrying a movie as the star or co-star does. He of course assumes his Michael role perfectly.
So, Anne is in Cannes with Michael and they are set to fly back to Paris where they are staying in a friend's apartment for their vacation, one with many interruptions, but Anne is experiencing some ear infection or something and cannot fly on the private jet waiting for them, while Michael needs to make a detour to Budapest for troubleshooting a film in production. Jacques, a long time family friend and Michael's associate, offers to drive Anne to Paris, an afternoon drive, easily, but Jacques doesn't want to take a simple two hours drive, not in France where that would be a terrible waste of time not to enjoy his country. So he takes it upon himself to give Anne a truly scenic ride and have her enjoy the bountiful life's pleasure his country has to offer between Cannes and Paris.
They take a few slight detours, the kind that mean Anne won't be in Paris that day, but rather late night the next. Their ride takes them around Nîmes and Lyon, famous regions with much to offer in way of scenic venues and culinary delights. It's those culinary offerings that Jacques excels at picking and finding, not to mention providing background information to a reluctant passenger. Anne wanted to be in Paris soon but Jacques' charming ways and the venues he introduces to Anne soon sway her to accept some delay.
We are quickly experiencing an express tour of the regions and get to wet our appetite at the best France has to offer in way of food. I happen to like food related movies and books, the kind that do not spare what senses will be excited and how this happens. Of course Jacques has an obvious crush on Anne but he shows exemplary restrain and good manners, but he is romancing her. There are a few moments when the two long time acquaintances reveal very personal and deeply emotional events about themselves; those are the kind that are almost secret, what only very close friends do. The one moment that stood out for me was when Jacques asks Anne if she is happy. In Jacques mind Anne deserves to be and he feels love is all about making sure the one you care for is; the audience is left to wonder if Michael is not too focused on work and not enough on Anne.
I noticed a detail that only quality direction and writing would bother to subtly include in all the restaurant scenes; in the fancy restaurants in France the waiters always address the man for the decision about food and wine choice, not the woman. Perhaps it's remnants of chauvinist era, but it is something I certainly experienced and why I could not help notice in this movie. I liked that authenticity. Eleanor Coppola's experience with cameras, behind them, also showed in how Anne's photographing her trip used the Cannon PowerShot of hers and Jacques' comments about the pictures she took. That was another detail you might notice.
I chose to watch this movie because Diane Lane had the principal role. I was happily impressed with the performance of her co-star Arnaud Viar, with who's filmography I was not as familiar. I admit I am a fan of Lane and probably saw most of her 63 movies; my favourites being Nights in Rodanthe, Must Love Dogs and of course Under the Tuscan Sun.
If your wife or girlfriend asks you to watch this movie with her, you won't regret saying yes; and if you ask your husband or boyfriend to watch it with you, insist, it can't hurt.
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