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Review: Warmed-over tropes in 'Paris-Manhattan'

This French rom-com, inspired by Woody Allen, grows strained.

May 02, 2013|By Sheri Linden
  • A scene from "Paris-Manhattan."
A scene from "Paris-Manhattan." (Handout )

To say that Sophie Lellouche, writer-director of the French rom-com "Paris-Manhattan," was inspired by the films of Woody Allen is not to suggest that her movie is inspired. A wan homage to l'oeuvre de Woody, the feature siphons off bits of "Play It Again, Sam," "Hannah and Her Sisters" and "Manhattan Murder Mystery" in its underwhelming tale of a thirtysomething Parisian's search for Mr. Right.

For pharmacist Alice (Alice Taglioni), the search is far from urgent; why bother when she's already found the perfect guy in Allen? She communes with a poster of the American filmmaker, engaging in conversations on love and death, his responses drawn from dialogue he spoke in his movies. The conceit grows more strained, its Talmudic potential unrealized, while the comedy never rises above bleh.

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The not-very-interesting oddball in her conventional Jewish family, Alice lets her parents and older, married sister fret over her unpaired state while she prescribes DVDs of her hero's films to customers at the pharmacy. The nice guy (Patrick Bruel) who installs her security system manages to get her attention, sort of, even though he's never seen a Woody Allen movie.

As if to emphasize the gap between her film and Allen's work, Lellouche lards the soundtrack with standards and uses his signature white-on-black Windsor typeface for the credits. And she enlists the maestro of neurosis himself, whose brief appearance, however awkward, is the movie's only involving scene. If nothing else, it sparks the hope that he'll cut through the garbage, as Marshall McLuhan so indelibly did in "Annie Hall." But no.

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"Paris-Manhattan." No MPAA rating; in French with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 18 minutes. Playing: At Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills; Laemmle's Town Center 5, Encino; Laemmle's Playhouse 7, Pasadena.

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