This is now officially my favorite Woody Allen movie.
“But Blake!” you say, “Paris-Manhattan isn’t even a Woody Allen movie!”
So, Paris-Manhattan is a French romcom about a…mmmmm…35 year old pharmacist who’s looking for love and meaning in life, and has tragically turned to Woody Allen movies as inspiration. OK, it’s not supposed to be tragic, but in real life, it pretty much would have to be, right?
The story is basically that Alice (Alice Taglioni) meets the guy of her dreams, Pierre (Louis-not-gonna-even-try-to-spell-his-name), and when it looks like they’re going to hit it off in a big way, he spies Alice’s sister, Helene (Marine Delterme) and before you know it, Pierre and Helene are getting married and 15 or 20 years have passed and they have a teen daughter, while Alice is a spinster taking over their father’s drug store.
The story gets going when, after years of Alice being unsuccessfully fixed up with every available bachelor in Paris, it turns out that Pierre has a brother (either actually or metaphorically) who is perfect in every way (and recently single) and takes a shine to Alice. He is, of course, a red herring, as the unassuming, far-from-perfect Victor (Patrick Bruel) shows up to install an alarm in the pharmacy.
We all know how this has to play out, of course, but the point of the romcom is the journey.
And the journey is pretty cute, in its own French way. There’s a clever device where Alice asks questions of the giant Woody Allen poster in her room, and the answers come from dialog from Allen’s movies (sort of Play it Again, Sam! style) and the plot features references to Allen films (like an incompetent robber) that bring a smile, even if you don’t know the movies.
I know this because the kids enjoyed it, and the only Allen movie The Boy has seen is Midnight In Paris and the only thing the Flower knows about Woody Allen is that “he married his daughter” (as reported by Peggy Hill in an episode of “King of the Hill”).
The sub-plots are entertaining as well, such as a goofy investigation in an effort to discover whether Pierre is cheating on Helene, and Helene’s anxiety over her daughter’s mysterious boyfriend.
It’s silly, of course. They don’t bother to make the women look particularly young for their college years, e.g. And Delterme is beautiful, of course, but so is Taglioni. They didn’t put glasses on her and have her hair in a bun, in the style of Hollywood “ugly”, so her unappealingness seems to come from, I guess, a slightly abrasive manner? Wearing flats instead of heels? Wait, I remember: She wears loose fitting shirts and snug fitting jeans.
I sincerely think it’s the last one now that I think about it. Someone in the movie made a comment about her wearing a dress or something.
Anyway, all the women are beautiful, including Margaux Chatalier, who plays the daughter, and Marie-Christine Adam, who plays the mom.
We enjoyed it, as I said. Cute cameo by Allen himself.
It’s being distributed with a short Woody Allen documentary called “Woody Before Allen” which is also pretty adorable.
So, yeah, I think his strength is not actually making movies but having movies made about him, or at least tangentially so.