Saturday, April 13, 2013

Paris-Manhattan: Movie Review

Getting past an immature and frustrating heroine, the film delivers a funny
and feel-good comedy about Woody Allen.

“Paris-Manhattan” features a woman obsessed with Woody Allen, much like myself and many others are. She lives in Paris, works as a pharmacist, is single, spends her days discussing Woody Allen movies and spends her nights discussing her life with Woody Allen – meaning, a poster of Woody Allen. Luckily the film got the rights to Allen’s movies, and he responds to her with things he has said before. 2012

Directed by: Sophie Lellouche

Screenplay by: Sophie Lellouche

Starring: Alice Taglioni, Patrick Bruel

The beginning of the movie is the funniest with the poster version of Allen delivering all of the film’s witticisms – meaning Allen’s own witticisms from his own movies. We have laughed at them all before, but there’s a reason we still watch them – they’re still funny. He complains about life, complains about death and offers her zero constructive advice. But that’s why we love him. The heroine, Alice Ovitz (Alice Taglioni), seems to get frustrated by that, but she’s frustrated with her life in general.

She’s in love with Pierre, but Pierre is married to her sister. Her sister is a lawyer and has a teenage daughter, while Alice is just a pharmacist working in their father’s store, and gets sets up on dates by her parents, her sister and her perfect brother-in-law. Alice was a frustrating heroine. She would complain incessantly about being single but when someone would set her up on a date, she would try to assert her independence and say that she’s a career woman with no interest in being with a man. She is, unfortunately, a terribly written character. And a movie dedicated to Woody Allen deserves much better.

The filmmaker definitely knows her Woody Allen, which is, of course, a must for a film like this. The film switches from a comedy of family entanglement to a romantic comedy to a comedic caper and back to a romantic comedy with ease just as Allen himself has done throughout his career. When Alice’s romantic misgivings become tiring, the film switches pace to a mischievous comedic caper à la “Manhattan Murder Mystery” or “The Curse of the Jade Scorpion”. It’s too bad the filmmaker wasn’t able to infuse any of her Allen knowledge into the main character. When somebody says to her that “’Manhattan’ hasn’t aged well” she argues back with “No.” Apparently she has nothing else to say on the subject.

When the film switches back to a romantic comedy, Alice is now at the point where she has to move on with her life and so the Woody Allen poster comes down. Blaming him for her romantic rut. But he wasn’t the one to tell her to idolize rich, handsome men who lie and cheat. But it has also already been established that she’s a terrible character, so we just have to get past that.

But the good thing is, we can get past all that. First, Alice’s romantic counterpart has a brilliant line about gods and the men Alice idolizes. And ultimately “Paris-Manhattan” is funny. It’s a feel-good romantic comedy that also delivers an ending that all romanticists and realists alike dream about.