Thursday, April 11, 2013

The non-Woody, Woody Allen movie: Sophie Lellouche's PARIS-MANHATTAN

Light as a feather, and with just about as much on its mind, Sophie Lellouche's new romantic comedy from France places the usual made-for-each-other protagonists in each other's path but makes sure neither of them can know or admit to this until just before the rolling of the final credits. The movie's "big difference" (and what might connect it to American audiences a bit more firmly than many French comedies) is that it's third "star" is Woody Allen, whom our female protag, a Parisian pharmacist, idolizes and fetishizes to the point where she knows his films by heart and recommends them to anyone with a problem, mental or physical, in order for healing to take place. Wow: some paean to Mr. Allen!

This may sound pretty awful on paper (or blog) but I have to say that it all goes down much easier than expected, due to the very good performances from the entire cast and to the quirky manner in which Lellouche, shown at right, defines her hero, heroine, and the latter's odd family. PARIS-MANHATTAN -- the film takes place in the former but it's Allen's Manhattan (the movie and its vision/view of our city) that rules -- offers up a slight but quite charming 77 minutes worth of Allen-isms (his voice emanating from a poster of his younger self that adorns the heroine's wall) and French romantic and family situations pretty much guaranteed to put a smile on the face of Francophiles and Allen-lovers.

In the leading roles are a young woman and older man we've seen a few times previously: she -- Alice Taglioni (above) -- most memorably in The Valet, Sky Fighters and Grande école); and he -- Patrick Bruel (below) -- of The Secret and Change of Plans. Both performers are quite right for their roles here and add a lot of charm and sex appeal to the proceedings.

It's the supporting cast, too, who help bring the movie home: Michel Aumont (below, right) as the family's dad, Marie-Christine Adam as the tipsy mom and Marie Delterme as sis (shown at left, two photos below).

That actor with the really long name -- Louis-Do de Lencquesaing (shown below, center, and so fine in The Father of My Children) plays sis' hubby, and there are a few other slightly recognizable faces on view, too.

It may be a bit of a spoiler to go any further with what happens and who shows up, but it all comes out as sunny and bright as a perfect stroll through the Tuileries on a gorgeous day with the temperature around 75 degrees. Are you surprised? No. But if you're one of those with a soft spot for rom-coms in the French style, you'll exit with a grin on your face. (I do, however, wish that Ms Lellouche could have ended her film just a few moments earlier, without undue lingering. She holds that final shot far too long.

Due, I am guessing, to the film's rather short running time, on the program with Paris-Manhattan is also a short about an odd but interesting Allen connection entitled Woody Before Allen. So, for Allen fans happy to settle for a couple of movies with and about the guy (without actually being by the guy), here's your cup of java.

Finally, for fans of either Allen or this film who want to learn more about the filmmaker, here's a nice interview with Ms Lellouche first published at FemaleFirst. Paris-Manhattan opens tomorrow, Friday, April 12, in Manhattan at the Quad Cinema. The exclusive Los Angeles engagement begins Friday, May 3rd at Laemmle's Music Hall 3 in Beverly Hills, the Playhouse 7 in Pasadena and the Town Center 5 in Encino. Elsewhere around the country? Let's hope. Otherwise wait for it on DVD and/or streaming.

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