Obviously, being a Coppola makes it easier to get a director’s gig. Eleanor (wife of Francis) has provided us with a movie that is both a puerile and glossy travelogue of business-class France and a terminally boring homage to gluttony and pomposity. You can almost see in the thought bubbles above the heads of her characters Anne and Jacques (Diane Lane and Arnaud Viard), as they sit down to yet another 5-star Michelin meal, the words ‘I wonder what the poor people are doing?’ Anne’s husband, Michael (Alec Baldwin, receiving more money than you or I will earn in a year for barely remembering his trite lines) is a Hollywood producer who has to fly from Provence to Hungary to oversee another major project.
Anne, poor thing, has an earache that prevents her from joining him on the private jet to Budapest (life is so demanding for the rich), so Jacques, Michael’s associate, volunteers to drive Anne to Paris in his convertible retro Peugeot. And guess what? Jacques knows every best restaurant in the world between there and the City of Light. This might come as a surprise too, but Anne, not having Gallic sensitivities, has no appreciation of fine food and wine. She rolls her eyes ecstatically at everything Jacques orders. And what a supreme achievement of culinary art it is that escargots need to be cooked alive. (The French are so sophisticated, didn’t you know?) Every mouthful she takes is like entering heaven, while the Frenchman – so recherché in his love of les fags – tells her all she or anybody needs to know about the grog they are drinking.
Thankfully, the movie’s cringe is apparent early, when Anne sighs, ‘Why do flowers smell so much better in France than in the States?’ (vomit), so you can at least get a handle on the voguish emptiness of it all. A bit of candy-arsed flirting happens along the way, but sadly, this is a film of appalling cliché made for people who have never travelled.