A fluffy French romance about a woman obsessed with Woody Allen
By his own high standards, Woody Allen may only have made one great film (Midnight in Paris) this century, but his cinematic and literary output is well worth celebrating. That said, there’s something almost creepy about the slavish devotion to Allen demonstrated in writer/director Sophie Lellouche’s debut feature.
Lovelorn pharmacist Alice (Alice Taglioni) can’t seem to find the right man in her life, partly through the domineering influence of his sister (Marine Delterme) and also through her devotion to the films, philosophy and wit of Woody Allen. At a party, Alice meets security alarm installer Victor (Patrick Bruel), and a tentative romance ensues. Will Alice be able to let go of her spinster’s obsession with the funnyman whose portrait adorns her living room wall?
The presence of this overseeing poster recalls a similar visual trope in Allen’s Play It Again, Sam, in which he sleeps with Diane Keaton under a huge poster of Humphrey Bogart, and gets romantic advice from his big-screen idol. In Paris-Manhattan, Alice imagines romantic resolution through dialogue with Allen, but her problems don’t seem too difficult to surmount, and much of the film’s seventy minute running time is given over to irrelevant sub-plots.
Allen’s influences (The Marx Brothers, Cole Porter, Ernst Lubitsch) are presented as Alice’s obsessions as well, which tips Lellouche’s film into derivative territory, inviting negative comparisons particularly as the one element that Paris-Manhattan never begins to capture about Allen is his wit. Seemingly lacking her own ideas or style, Lellouche does herself no favours by wearing such influences on her sleeve, yet her cast are game, the locations look great, and the whole enterprise has an agreeably frothy touch. While never approaching the heights of its inspiration, Paris-Manhattan is an enjoyable piece of fluff for lovers of lighthearted, lightheaded French cinema.
Limited release from Fri 5 Jul.