Paris-Manhattan

Paris-Manhattan

***1/2

Reviewed by: Stuart Crawford

Romantic comedies have two jobs: be funny, and be romantic. Paris-Manhattan succeeds on both counts, which elevates it above 90 per cent of the genre. Very few people would go to see a film that billed itself as a creepy tiresome, however, so we have to put up with a lot of inaccurate genre labelling.

This is writer/director Sophie Lellouche's début feature, and it's a sort of reverential homáge to Woody Allen. Heavily aping his style (if you're going to steal, steal from the best), Lellouche also includes Allen as a minor character, dispensing advice to the protagonist via snippets of dialogue from his films.

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Alice (Alice Taglioni) is a pharmacist so enamoured with Woody Allen that she dispenses his films as a cure for depression. Her Jewish parents fret over the fact that she's unmarried, and try to set her up with every eligible bachelor around. The stage is set for a typically Allenesque tale of love and life and people meddling in each other's lives, with few surprises but so much love in the telling that it's difficult not to be enchanted. Most of the film's heavy lifting is performed admirably by Taglioni and Patrick Bruel, who plays Victor, a potential suitor. Victor manufactures elaborate alarm systems and seems to spend most of his life in a state of mild confusion. His hap-deficient (they're not entirely hapless) efforts to woo Alice provide the basis of much of the comedy, and several sub-plots involving Alice's family feel like they've been thrown in to cover up the fact that not very much at all happens in the film.

It's a fittingly neurotic concern, for a character-driven story like this doesn't really need for much to happen, so long as the characters are interesting and their interactions meaningful. It sounds like a low bar, but it's something a lot of creepy tiresomes seem to miss.

That Paris-Manhattan is a first-time feature is readily apparent in both the writing and direction: some scenes aren't really properly established and the narrative seems disjointed in places as a result. The visuals, though, are competent without drawing too much attention, and while the dialogue isn't quite up to Allen's standard there are enough bòns móts to keep fans of his happy. A fun, lighthearted and above all confident film that lovers of the rom-com are likely to adore.

Reviewed on: 13 Jun 2013
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Comedy about a Woody Allen-obsessed pharmacist.
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