out of Five
Running time: 77
This beautifully shot French romantic comedy about a Woody Allen-obsessed pharmacist struggling to find love in Paris is passionately directed, emotionally engaging and absolutely charming.
What’s it all about?
Written and directed by Sophie Lellouche, Paris-Manhattan is a French romantic comedy that stars Alice Taglioni as Alice, an offbeat Parisian pharmacist who’s completely obsessed with Woody Allen and his films. Pressured by her parents and her sister Hélène (Marine Delterme) to find a man, Alice much prefers to spend her time alone in her apartment, where she enjoys nightly neurotic discussions with the giant Woody Allen poster hanging on her wall.
When her family introduce her to the wealthy and attractive Vincent (Yannick Soulier) the two begin a brief affair but deep down, Alice knows that he’s not the right man for her (after all, no one could match up to Woody!). But when she meets alarm salesman Victor (Patrick Bruel) at a party one night, Alice secretly finds herself falling for him and the pair quickly begin to bond over their suspicions that Alice’s brother-in-law might be cheating on Hélène.
In her first feature film, Sophie Lellouche shows off her strong filmmaking talent with Paris-Manhattan (Lellouche’s last project was actually a short in 1999), which is passionately directed and wonderfully scripted. Although its main focus is on Alice, the engaging screenplay allows room for the support characters to shine and enjoy their own subplots and on the whole it’s witty, enchanting and entertaining.
As a character, 30-something Alice could have easily been extremely frustrating to watch due to her tendency to wonder around in a dream-like state and her incessant refusal to grow up and enter the real world (Alice even hesitates at taking over the pharmacy at first when her doting dad retires and hands over the keys, explaining that she much prefers to be ‘the pharmacist’s daughter’). But thanks to Alice Taglioni’s charismatic and naturalistic performance, Alice is completely charming and undeniably likeable throughout and Taglioni sparks decent chemistry with Patrick Bruel, who is suitably cast as her older and wiser love interest.
The Equally Good
The whole Woody Allen theme is utterly adorable and will particularly strike a chord with fans of his films who will enjoy when his most poignant quotes pop up in response to Alice’s philosophical questions, as well as his blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo at the very end. Finally, the jazz-based soundtrack (Alice also has a deep fondness for Cole Porter) is delightful and perfectly suits this uplifting film.
If you’re a fan of Woody Allen, you’ll definitely fall for Paris-Manhattan as this charming and uplifting French comedy is an absolute pleasure to watch. Here’s hoping that Sophie Lellouche doesn’t wait another 13 years to make her next film.