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Paris Can Wait

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis

Paris Can Wait

See Paris Can Wait when you’re feeling peaceful. It’s a lovely, subtle portrait of a quiet woman who begins to discover who she is. That portrait is delivered by Diane Lane in grand collusion with Arnaud Viard. The movie unfolds in such a way that its fans and foes will be predictable. Men over 60 may find it boring. Women of that age may find it an intriguing new key to middle age. The old among us will love comparing today’s rules for women with those of our day. The certainty: there will be a follow-up movie.

Anne (Diane Lane) and her movie producer husband Michael (Alec Baldwin) have arrived at the Cannes Film Festival on a typical wife-supports-her- husband business trip. When Michael is summoned to another city, he leaves Anne in the hands of his business partner, Jacques, who turns the short trip to Paris into a two day tour of his favorite vistas, historic sites, and towns. At every mealtime Jacques produces a magical meal in a beautiful place. “This is the best time of year to eat young animals,” he says as the American hides one under her napkin.

Jacques’ attraction to Anne is an immediate given but it also becomes clear that in his mind, that will be her choice, not his. His specialty is the seductive process. As they travel, Anne takes dozens of pictures of everything with increasing attention to close ups of art and tapestry. She is falling in love with textures, and when Jacques looks at her pictures, he realizes she is discovering who she is and who she wants to be. His desire for an affair is enriched by wanting to help her see more of what she is discovering about herself.

As Anne begins, in several ways, to grow beyond the supportive wife role into self-discovery, a quiet feeling rolls over us. She will enrich her life in a way women have never, until quite recently, been encouraged to do. The light in Anne’s eyes tells us not what she will choose but that for the first time, she sees options. She has begun to discover herself.

Eleanor Coppola has written and directed this movie with such quiet beauty that nothing seems overdone. Successful husband Michael still loves his wife; Jacques wants an affair with her and Anne, for the moment anyway, has, in an involuntary way, found out who she wants to become. Instead of seeker and sought, they are equals contemplating future pleasures. Arnaud Viard’s courtship via beautiful food and flowers provides comic relief and future possibility.

We all owe a salute to Eleanor Coppola who has made a small film say so much that we suspect she has been there herself. No sermons here, just the quiet certainty that yes, there is someone else inside a woman when she reaches middle-age. She is just beginning. Diane Lane delivers a beautiful and very quiet portrait of a woman finding her core.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Film Title : Paris Can Wait
Word Count : 498
Running time: 1:32
Rating : PG
Date : May 21, 2017

 

A United Kingdom

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis

A United Kingdom

A United Kingdom is a powerful story rooted in racism in reverse. If the movie weren’t historically accurate, it might have been labelled “too good to be true,” but it did happen, and in just this way.

This fine movie was directed with great care and skill by director Amma Asante from a script by Guy Hibbert and a book by Susan Williams. Time, characters, and location may be different from those of today but the clash of cultural dictates – then and now – comes from the same hurt that racial hatred inflicts wherever it survives.

Time: 1947. Location: Africa and England. Characters: Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo) and Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike). Seretse was sent from Africa to London by his uncle (Vusi Kunene) for the education that would equip him for his hereditary role as king of the British protectorate of Bechuanalanda, later to become Botswana. When the future king meets Ruth Williams, a white woman who works as an office worker, they fall in love with scant understanding of the international eruptions their marriage will cause. They love jazz, dancing, and each other and they spend little time thinking about the future.

When Seretse’s uncle (Vusi Kunene) summons him home with the announcement that his reign is to begin, the trouble begins. Ruth’s father rages at her marrying a black man and disowns her. Seretse’s uncle is livid that he is marrying a white woman. That’s the equation and while it plays out differently in England and Africa, the hurt is deep on both sides.

The genuinely appealing thing is that neither he nor she ever wavers. No second thoughts for her about marrying the king of a small African kingdom; none for him when his uncle exiles him back to England for five years as punishment for his white wife. Ruth elects to stay in Africa during her husband’s exile while she works for his return and in every way she can to become part of the country.

Actors Oyelowo and Pike create a couple we care very much about, and we marvel that their story unfolded seventy years ago. In a grim echo of today, the rage of the British government and their families creates the turmoil that nearly dooms his reign.

Director Amma Asante and actor David Oyelowo, both born in the U.K., clearly saw this true story in the same way: a married couple with love of country, love of each other, and a shared determination to bring this educated, qualified leader to the throne he had been preparing to occupy throughout his life.

The filmmakers were wise to avoid creating imaginary subplots and to concentrate instead on two people focused on their own future and that of the kingdom. This was 1947. In spite of progress between then and now, it is impossible to watch this movie without admitting to ourselves the one thing that persists in spite of political progress: the emotions of racial hatred.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Film Title : A United Kingdom
Word Count : 497
Running time: 1:51
Rating : PG-13
Date : March 5, 2017