Mary Kay came across this movie,Paris Can Wait, which somehow had not found itself in my range of radar. I am always game for something like this. Little did I know that this would totally capture so much of what I have spent my entire life pursuing. MK calls it the ‘rapture,” that ‘je ne sais quoi’ sort of joy that is brought about by the little things in life. It does not necessarily have to be something that can only be had by spending tons of money. As shown in the movie, it might be the fragrance had by a basket of fresh strawberries in France, something for those who have never graced its borders might never understand. It might be the fragrance of fresh roses instead of, as the main protagonist, Jacques, put it, that smell of refrigeration of American roses.
The story line involves an American couple in southern France. The husband, played by Alec Baldwin (Michael), is overworked, over motivated in his job, and rapidly losing touch with his wife of some twenty years. The purpose of the trip was supposed to be a special time for the two of them, but it ends up being nothing more than work time as the wife, Anne, played by Diane Lane, opts not to fly to Budapest with him since she has intense pain in her ears. Jacques, played by Arnaud Viard, a business associate of Michael, is always thinking of everything, while Michael seems to remember nothing of Anne and even relies on her to keep his socks straight. Jacques has some French homeopathic meds for Anne’s ears and suggests that he drive her to Paris, where Anne and Michael were going to stay after Budapest. Reluctantly, Anne decides to go with him. She is a little concerned about the stereotypical views of Frenchmen (as is Michael) and their seeming unconcern for little things like marriage licenses.
As it happens, the one day trip to Paris took longer, necessitating an overnight…dinner, etc. Jacques has never married and seemingly has never found the woman of his dreams. Jacques is hell bent on exposing Anne to the wonders of life in France. Jacques is a typical Frenchman and extremely attentive, very well aware of a beautiful woman who is being pretty much ignored, and reads her every move and expression. He finds things out about her and questions her with a very simple question, “Are you happy?”
I have no spoilers here. The trip from the south of France to Paris was way longer than one would imagine. It was also joyous. During it, the French countryside, fragrances, food, and culture were tasted. Both Anne and Michael were concerned about her travels with Jacques and at one point in time; Anne mentioned to Jacques that she recognized her puritanical ways and thoughts. and their juxtaposition to French views.
One sensed that Anne was being reborn during this trip, opening herself up in ways she never had, and yet…
I loved this movie. I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish and my only complaint is that it did make me feel bad that I have been away from my second home for way too long.
On the way out, a delightful friend of ours with her mother talked to us about it. Karma had put them right next to us in the theatre. Our friend’s mom said that her only complaint was that ‘Jacques’ was not handsome enough. She was right, from an American point of view, but there was more to Jacques than his looks, it was his persona, his charm, his warmth, his being French, that was so much more. “L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.”
I hope that there is a sequel.
I bought a bottle of a French wine they mentioned and we had it with dinner. Need I say more?