We'll Never Have Paris

*1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

"Romance is dead on arrival and the comedy should be served a gagging order."

Whatever happened to all those shy, bumbling but sweet-hearted men that used to populate romantic comedies? All we seem to get these days are hypochondriacs, narcissists and the highly strung - essentially, Woody Allen characters without the self-deprecating charm. Inexplicably, no matter how irredeemably awful they are, they still get the girl.

The latest has been penned by The Big Bang Theory's Simon Helberg and closes Edinburgh International Film Festival this weekend. It is, according to the opening credits, "Based on a true story... Unfortunately". Helberg is these days happily married to his co-director Jocelyn Towne and, if any of this tale of needy, obsessive, self-regarding male behaviour is remotely rooted in facts concerning their relationship, then it is certainly most unfortunate for her.

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Helberg plays Quinn, a hypochondriac florist who is in a long-term relationship with Devon (Melanie Lynskey), whom we learn virtually nothing about save for the fact that she is a sweet teacher who loves him with all her heart. This seems to be the perfect set-up when a brief brush with mortality at the eye clinic prompts Quinn to finally try to propose. But just as he is about to do the deed, his flower shop colleague Kelsey (Maggie Grace), declares undying love. In the world of We'll Never Have Paris, it seems that long legs trump long-term commitment any day of the week and, as if we needed any less of a reason to root for Quinn, it is not so much a realisation of how awful his behaviour is that makes him regret his decision to stray, as the mucky state of Kelsey's bathroom.

In a moment of clarity, meanwhile, Devon has headed off to Paris to find some freedom of her own, prompting Quinn to hunt her down in a bid to get her back. The film is not even at the midway mark when you wish she had taken out a restraining order along with the plane ticket, as Quinn proceeds to take his narcissism to new depths.

When Julie Delpy depicted love on the rocks in 2 Days In Paris, which features a very similar sub-Woody Allen male protagonist, she at least gave her own character some steel. Here Devon, sweetly played by Lynskey, is so thinly drawn she is practically see-through, although she is positively complex compared to Kelsey. The only things that strike the right note are the frothy French pop soundtrack and a sympathetic turn from Alfred Molina as Quinn's dad. Romance, meanwhile, is dead on arrival and the comedy should be served a gagging order.

Reviewed on: 26 Jun 2014
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Romantic comedy sees a man try to win back his girlfriend.
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If you like this, try:

2 Days In Paris