Paris Manhattan is a romantic comedy about a Woody Allen obsessed woman, and her adventures in finding love. It’s light hearted, and is never deeper than a fun distraction. But it’s nice fun, with lots of in jokes for Woody Allen fans.
Alice Taglioni stars as Alice Ovitz. A 30s something pharmacist who’s still single, whose parents are starting to hook her up with men. Taglioni is beautiful and charming in the lead role, carrying the whole thing. If you can get past the idea that such a beautiful woman has trouble finding a man – but we guess that’s the conceit of every Jennifer Aniston film ever.
In her life we get a sister, who’s dealing with marital troubles and a troubled teenager. Her parents, who worry too much about her and should probably worry about themselves. And a series of men who enter her life, in particular Victor (Patrick Bruel), an alarm salesman who is fully grounded, compared to Alice’s flights of fantasy.
And then there’s Woody Allen. Alice, and director Sophie Lellouche (in her first feature), has a clever device of talking to a Woody Allen poster, and the poster talks back with old film dialogue – and it’s done amazingly well. If you didn’t know it was old film dialogue, would you think it was made just for this film? The idea that she gives her customers Allen films to help cure their ailments is a little cringe-y, but otherwise the obsession is sweet.
This short film has its moments. Throughout the middle of the film, we were enthralled by the characters, and there was no mention of Woody Allen at all. It’s nothing groundbreaking – relationships, drinking, lies, crying – but it’s done fine here as well. It is not one big Woody Allen in-joke, by any means.
The Woody moments are nice. There’s a shot of sister Helene (Marine Delterme) lying down on a sofa that is reminiscent of Manhattan. A romantic getting-to-know-you late night walk. The final moments could only be Alice rushing through Paris (on a scooter though, not on foot). The red dress idea used so effectively in Interiors to show passion is right here. Best of all are people’s reaction to the Gene Wilder story in Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex.
There are two more nice moments that involve Woody Allen. The moral of the story – of what we learn from Woody Allen films, and how it prepares us for life. And finally, his well documented cameo. We will say nothing more about that. Needless to say, we loved them both.
Lellouche does a fine job of putting the film together. The music is fantastic, and you’d have to try pretty hard to not make Paris look beautiful. It’s a nice little adult urbane comedy, the kind that they rarely make in America anymore, that Allen helped to inspire in the first place. Well worth checking out, it’s a fine distraction, a little chuckle, and far above the fan fiction it could have been.
Cast: Alice Taglioni, Patrick Bruel, Marine Delterme, Yannick Soulier, Louis-Do de Lencquesaing, Michel Aumont, Marie-Christine Adam