Review: Paris-Manhattan

December 2012

  • D M Bradley

 

While the title, overall mood and ads suggest that this is to be rather like Woody Allen’s Manhattan (1979), it’s actually, and somewhat oddly, more reminiscent of the Woody-penned-and-starring, Herbert-Ross-directed Play It Again, Sam, only suitably Frenched-up and with Woody himself, seen on a poster taken from his 60s/70s prime and heard in dialogue grabs borrowed mostly from Manhattan, instead of a trench-coated Bogart lookalike.

Terminally single français pharmacist Alice (Alice Taglioni), preparing to take over her Jewish-French Dad’s business, is the one here obsessed with Allen’s body of work and seeking his pseudo-supernatural advice about personal matters (“You know what Freud said about life?”). Feature-débuting writer/director Sophie Lellouche searches for what exactly to do with her curious heroine (including a fairly risible flashback or two) for quite a while, before Alice finally meets the guy you just know is her perfect match, Victor (Patrick Bruel, a popular actor and singer in Europe, and underplaying nicely). And, although Victor is heroically undaunted by Alice’s assorted neuroses, and doesn’t seem concerned that she, for example, advises that criminals watch Woody classics to get over their anger issues, and proves to be a security expert too (get it?), the pair have to keep on not quite connecting for the increasingly frustrating narrative to work properly, and Lellouche, it must be said, tends to noticeably draw out the proceedings – even though, in the end, this one’s barely feature length.

Obviously, and unsurprisingly, operating in something of a fantasy world (the hyphenated title appears in the opening credits sequence over a shaken snow globe, which seems appropriate here), much like almost any other given romantic comedy, French or otherwise, Lellouche’s watchable, if at times twitty, effort doesn’t really bother answering the big questions – like why Alice, a highly intelligent, sensitive and spirited femme who looks like a Parisian Elle Macpherson, could possibly have trouble getting a date, and prefers to just go with fluffy gags, the stars’ charms and various cute Woody references (including a lengthy clip from Hannah and Her Sisters with daft French subtitles). And if, at this late moment, you don’t know, or somehow can’t guess, the ‘twists’ here, then maybe you should make this the only review of Paris-Manhattan that you read or, alternatively, pat yourself on the back for not having had to suffer through the other 6378 romantic comedies that got us here. Formidable!

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