Monday, March 11, 2013

Paris-Manhattan [2012]

MPAA (PG-13)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing listing*

Paris-Manhattan [2012] [IMDb] []* (written and directed by Sophie Lellouche [IMDb] []*) is a French romantic comedy that played recently at the 16th Annual European Film Festival held at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago and has been advertised as a French thank you to American director Woody Allen for his film Midnight in Paris [2011].

Indeed from my 3 years in Italy during the seminary, I do know that Woody Allen and his films have been enormously popular in Europe.  He's been a regular and welcome guest at the annual Venice International Film Festival and his films have been anticipated and well received from London/Paris all the way to Moscow and, my sense is, everywhere in between.  Why?  Well, his humor (and yes, at times, his life ...) have been, well, "very European" ... ;-) or :-[.

So then, this film, about a young Parisian woman named Alice (played by Alice Taglioni [IMDb] []*), always happy-go-lucky and stunningly beautiful though she may be, but somehow "unlucky in love" -- Pierre (played by Louis-Do de Lencquesaing [IMDb] []*), the guy she falls for when she's still in college, falls instead for and marries her younger sister Hélène (played by Marine Delterme [IMDb] []*).  So Alice spends the rest of her young adult years (and as the film enters in the present, the beginning of her "soon to be beyond her young adult years...") being setup by a very guilty (if themselves very happy) Hélène / Pierre with just about every friend that Pierre's ever had ... ;-) to no avail, even if the last one, a Vincent (played by Yannick Soulier [IMDb] []*), appears to strike her fancy at least somewhat.  His presence in her life allows her to go to social occasions with (and, well, to occasionally sleep with...).  But both Alice/Vincent know that the Other lacks that je ne sais quoi... and hence both know that the Other isn't "the One."  What Alice does "have" in her life is a love for Cole Porter / jazz and a big poster of Woody Allen on her wall with whom she converses about her troubles, and who always makes her laugh. 

Enter Victor (played by Patrick Bruel [IMDb] []*) who comes into her life as a security system installer (hence somewhat more "blue collar" than she, a college educated pharmacist).  Alice's father (played by Michel Aumont [IMDb] []*) who ran the "family business, a "corner pharmacy" somewhere in Paris wanted to hand over the business to Alice.  But as a typically "good parent," he was concerned about Alice's "safety."  So he brings in Victor's firm to install a security system that would keep his (very much adult, mid-late 30-something) daughter "safe."  And Victor, a small business owner himself, comes with some very original ideas ;-).  My favorite was the "chloroform system" that would "knock out everyone" in the shop (including presumably Alice) within 10 seconds after she presses the security button under the counter ;-). 

Much, often classically "Woody Allen" / neurotic ensues ... but as is typical of Woody Allen's humor, it's always very gentle and, often enough, its message is "things are not really as they seem" (they're better, kinder, nicer than they seem).

Anyway, I do believe that most Woody Allen fans (including myself, as I've been one since my own college days) would approve.  And I do agree that the film is a fitting tribute to a film-maker who, yes, has at times lived "an artist's life" but has also tried very hard to always keep his fans / audiences smiling.  Good job!

* Machine translations into English of the French links provided are most easily viewed through use of Google's Chrome brower.

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