Things were a lot softer in 1966. If you were old enough to go to movies in those relatively tranquil days, you will undoubtedly remember with a smile Claude Lelouch’s beautiful romantic film “A Man and A Woman.” It was a simple tale of a widow (Anouk Aimee) and a widower (Louis Trintignant) falling in love as they shared a ride from their children’s boarding school in the south of France to arguably the most exquisite city in the world at that time: Paris.
Now, exactly 50 years later, a new film, “Paris Can Wait”, reprises that story, but updated with the free-wheeling attitudes and behaviors of the 21st century.
Again, it’s the story of a man and a woman on a leisurely drive from the south of France to Paris. But in this case the woman, Anne, (Diane Lane) is married. Her husband Michael (Alec Baldwin) is a busy and distracted executive who, when he isn’t flying around the world on business, spends the rest of his time on the phone.
It isn’t that they are indifferent to each other In fact, they appear to love each other in a casually friendly way. But she is conscious that she is no longer as young and beautiful as she once was and has begun to feel a tremor of uncertainty about the quality of her life and her future.
Into that disquieting situation comes a business associate of her husband’s, a Frenchman named Jacques (Arnaud Viard), who is attractive, charming, and attentive. And being something of a roue, he lets her know that he sees her as a beautiful, intelligent, and desirable woman.
Anne, for her part, is both flattered and amused. And when her husband is suddenly called away on business and arranges for her to drive back to Paris with Jacques, she hesitantly agrees.
But the trip, which would ordinarily take a few hours, becomes a three-day journey as Jacques entertains her by introducing her to the glories of his native country and stopping to show her locations and landscapes that he had treasured since childhood. In addition to plying her with the finest wines and exotic gourmet meals in the most elegant hotels along the way.
He is, however, a gentleman, and treats her throughout with the traditional chivalry of an earlier century.
Meanwhile, Michael has been growing frantic as he continues to receive no answer when he calls home. Eventually he returns to their Paris apartment and greets her not with anger, but with relief and tenderness. And Jacques returns with an armful of roses and asks her to meet him in the city at a later date.
She stands there twinkling and noncommittal and you are left wondering how her future will turn out.
It remains a mystery known only to Eleanor Coppola, who wrote and directed this lovely film — a far cry from the murderous action-packed blockbusters of her husband, Francis Ford Coppola.
“Paris Can Wait” can be enjoyed currently at theaters all over Los Angeles.