Paris-Manhattan Review

Film Still
  • Paris-Manhattan film still


Woody Allen is the big inspiration behind this flip, featherlight French farce.

Remember the scene in Stephen Frears' High Fidelity where John Cussack's character is given a new lease of life via the wit and wisdom of Bruce Spingsteen, who appears very briefly as an apparition? That worked because it took up no more than four seconds of screen time. Sophie Lellouche's Paris-Manhattan switches the ID of the celebrity shrink (here it's Woody Allen) and stretches the concept over feature length. And it's far, far too soppy to bear.

An homage to Woody that can be enjoyed by those who have seen roughly three of his movies, it traces Alice Taglioni's arty, introspective, lovelorn pharmacist as she attempts to jumpstart her lovelife following a major snafu in her youth. To get her through the hard nights and harder decisions, she converses with a large poster of WA who delivers clipped soundbyte truthbombs in the form of quotes from his movies.

If the wannabe arch Paris-Manhattan were a Woody Allen movie, it would fall somewhere between the featherlight frippery of Hollywood Ending and Anything Else. Lellouche never seems willing or able to engage in the kind of deep philosophical discourse that Allen employs as a matter of course, and all the best insights in the film are essentially rehashed from the source material: this is a cuttings job movie more than it's an original work.

Taglioni's character is too ditzy and faux-neurotic to ever curry any real favour, while the storyline focusing on her flirtations with two very different men can only really end up going one way. As a pharmacist, she secretly prescribes Woody Allen movies to her ailing clients, though this motif isn't taken anywhere particularly interesting. That't the joke.

Guessing that he must've been in the area shooting a movie, Woody crops up in person during the film's home stretch so we at least get one fortune cookie platitude straight from the horse's mouth. But this jumbled collection of balmy Allenalia is disjointed and throwaway,  and Lellouche's downfall is due to her willingness to pilfer profundity from her beloved muse that, you get the sense, she doesn't quite have the intellectual chops to grapple with.

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