'Every woman’s success is every other woman’s success.' Diane Lane on Paris Can Wait
IN A SUMMER teeming with big-budget Hollywood box office stinkers - see Baywatch, The Mummy and the ever-terrible Transformers - we feel, as always, it's up to independent cinema to rescue our movie-going experience as we ride out the final weeks of this year's thermogenic temperatures. The irony has not escaped us, however, that it happens to be Superman's mum, Diane Lane, who arrives on UAE screens this weekend with an independent venture to sweep us away and save the day. Her offering, a feature directorial debut for the 81-year old Eleanor Coppola (who also penned the piece), possesses exactly what we're looking for from a film of this ilk. There are no daft robots nor superheroes; charm, wit and beautiful cinematography are present in abundance and the intimate cast of two, not counting an excellent yet brief appearance by Alec Baldwin, build a compelling, realistic story, albeit one injected with flights of whimsy and delight.
The title of this picture: Paris Can Wait - a road trip movie of personal discovery and fine food beginning on the French Riviera, through Provence and on to Paris starring Lane and Gallic powerhouse Arnaud Viard.
After her movie producer husband, Michael, (Baldwin) is called away shortly after the Cannes Film Festival, it is up to Anne (Lane) to make her own way up to the capital. Hearing of her impending solo journey, Michael's business associate, twinkly-eyed Frenchman Jacques (Viard), offers to drive Anne the entire way. A The Trip-style excursion transpires as Jacques, far from taking the direct route, creates a three-day detour of the finest restaurants, hotels and scenic sites along the way, at first testing the genteel American's patience before an inevitable acquiescence to the local guide's charisma and lust for life.
"I call it a fairytale for grownups. You'll watch this and think, wouldn't it be fun to do this for real?" Lane told us about the movie over the phone from LA. "There's no revenge or murder, or saving the world. There are no illicit affairs; it's subtler than that. It doesn't need all that suspended disbelief. There is such a variety of films out today, I found it to be a relief."
For a star of Lane's standing to once again mix it in grassroots cinema, often a black hole for reliable financing and concrete release dates, the appeal of working with Coppola and realising her first cinematic vision was a great enticement.
"It's so cool and so rare that a woman of her age is afforded this opportunity," Lane said. "I was so excited to consciously be a vessel for Eleanor's story. It has taken six years for her to put this together and if I helped in some way to get it a theatrical release and it has a chance to swim in the real waters of movie distribution, then I'm happy too."
Lane told us the film is semi-autobiographical for Coppola and the drive upon which Anne embarks in the movie actually occurred. Lane said, once she had met Coppola, she didn't find it difficult to imagine.
"Being the spouse of a very large personality in the entertainment industry, you're a piece of home on the road with your mate when they're on business. She feels she's going to get a romantic trip out of this work trip. You know how that goes. So this adventure, when it occurs, is an awakening.
"When Eleanor told her girlfriends the story they said, 'I'd see that movie!' So Eleanor went and made it!"
Drawing on her past work, Lane said she could see a thematic link between Anne in Paris Can Wait and her excellent turn as Connie Sumner in 2002's Unfaithful, although minus "the high adrenaline and high consequence!" She elaborated; stating both movies feature women in long-term marriages who are given the opportunity of something new or exciting and lessons are apparent for those who wish to take them.
"I like to go into the dark and experience films that can make me see how I can improve my relationships or my life - what's really important. I think there are a lot of touchstones in the movie that bring that up," she said.
But would she accept Jacques invitation in real life in order to reassess the status quo, we had to ask?
"You always have to remember this is a business associate of her husband's. He's not a stranger. There's a frame around Anne and Jacques' relationship. He has an obligation to deliver her safely. It's not about the death of a marriage, or the illicitness of an affair, it's something real that happens when you're exposed to somebody who lets you think out of the box."
By her own admission, Lane is not wanting for any screen time in this movie, saying: "I'm all over this film! If you don't like me stay away!" With such a prominent role and a female director at the helm, we asked her how she viewed the ongoing question of equality in the entertainment industry. Her answer was predictably kind and thoughtful.
"I thought it was great when I was in Tokyo with Eleanor that over in Cannes her daughter wins Best Director. A high tide raises all boats. I feel every woman's success is every other woman's success. We've been the underdogs for millennia and I feel like there is a curiosity about the female perspective and experience. The richness of our humanity is worth exploring from every possible angle. It's going to take time to catch up but we have a long time."
Food is very much at the centre of this story, what was it like to film the haute restaurant scenes?
Everything that could happen with food happened. I had chicken that slowly turned to wood. I had some chocolate that took me to an altered state of mind. I don't like escargot, so that scene was interesting. My favourite scene was having a picnic because I love to be in nature. The most precious thing we can do is spend time in it.
What elements of the film do you think will resonate with a UAE audience?
Being far from family is a big one. She's an American abroad. Also there's a sense of escapism with the food. These days we deal with people who don't eat a certain wheat, or dairy or can't be near various ingredients. There's none of that here. You can live vicariously through it.
A scene from the film featuring Diane with Alec Baldwin (left) and Arnaud Viard (right)
Diane's character Anne on the Riviera