Paris Can Wait is Eleanor Coppola’s writing and directorial debut. Being the wife of Francis Ford Coppola, the director of classics like The Godfather, we might expect more, but audiences will find joy in this little gem, too.

Inspired by true events in Coppola’s life, Paris Can Wait finds appeal with its all-star cast and picturesque landscapes which transcend the rather cliché storyline about Anne Lockwood, an American wife (Diane Lane) with a workaholic, inattentive husband (Alec Baldwin) who is swept off her feet by a charming Frenchman (Arnaud Viard) by no fault of her own. Although it’s a story been told many times, the film isn’t too predictable in the hands of the novice director/writer.

Anne has clearly lost the enjoyment of life, or as the French say, her “joie de vivre.” Her and husband Michael Lockwood, a prominent movie producer, played by Baldwin (a last-minute addition after Coppola’s first choice had to bow out), travel to Cannes for a film festival when Michael is called to Budapest on business. Due to an illness, Anne ends up riding back to Paris with Michael’s French business partner Jacques Clement (Viard), where Michael will meet her when he returns in a few days. What should be an eight-hour road trip turns into an epic journey of self-discovery and finding the joy in life in any present situation.

When Anne begins to worry if they will ever arrive in Paris with all of Jacques’ spontaneous stops, he replies, “you Americans” implying that Americans are addicted to the rush, being busy, and worried about the next destination, that we rarely slow down to enjoy the journey. Perhaps Coppola has a point?

Lane is Coppola’s gem. It would be hard to imagine Paris Can Wait without a strong female lead that the audience can romantically connect to, even when she comes close to crossing some lines. Lane, no doubt, channeled her character from Under the Tuscan Sun with small sprinkles from Unfaithful. Could it be that is is only socially acceptable for Lane to cheat in her films? Do audiences love Lane so much that they just want her to be happy no matter what?

All in all, Paris Can Wait is just what one would expect from a Lifetime TV film. The cinematography and storyline provide a tremendous sense of escapism – a romantic, wine and cheese-fueled road trip in a foreign land. But most importantly, Paris Can Wait reminds us all about wanderlust, and lust in general. At age 81, Coppola’s debut film surprisingly serves as a real treat for the Francophile and the cultured romantic.

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