Wednesday, 12 December 2012


Palace Films
Now Showing

As a love letter to Woody Allen, writer-director Sophie Lellouche's feature debut is more enthusiastic than articulate as it tells the tale of Alice (Alice Taglioni), a Parisian woman who now in her 30s is both single and childless (sacre bleu!) because no real man can compete with her ideal: Mr. Allen.

Alice has imaginary conversations with the director, that is the larger than life poster of the bespectacled auteur which occupies a wall in her bedroom like she were still a teenager and he her pop idol. He talks back to her, too, albeit in neatly chosen sound bites from various Woody Allen films, and which only serve to reinforce what Alice is already thinking (not to mention what Lellouche legally had copyright access to).

But then Alice's romantic fortunes take an upward turn. She starts dating a handsome doctor (sensible given Alice is a pharmacist), and around about the same time Victor (Patrick Bruel), a locksmith and alarms expert, comes into her orbit.

Alice doesn't feel any attraction to the handsome older man but her parents, particularly her father, certainly do, and the pair end up spending a lot of time together, albeit platonically and mostly whilst tailing Alice's brother-in-law whom she is shocked to learn is cheating on her sister.

All of this plays out charmingly enough until its predictable although somewhat logic-free denouement but I found Paris-Manhattan to be increasingly frustrating and annoying. Like Romantics Anonymous, another Gallic rom-com from earlier in the year, I suspect we're supposed to be charmed by the whimsy while the French subtitles are to distract us from the gaps in both logic and reality.

Still, Paris-Manhattan didn't anger me in quite the same way that Romantic Anonymous did. But I maintain that like that film, if Lellouche's debut were to be made by Hollywood – scene-by-scene and word-for-word – reviewers and critics would savage it.

And in spite of the appealing leads and a "surprise" cameo, I think even those with a woody for Woody will find little to be enamoured by. Paris-Manhattan is no Midnight In Paris.

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