Paris-Manhattan: Film Review

"Manhattan" doesn't translate well in the off-key rom-com.

Sophie Lellouche's debut intends to put a Gallic spin on vintage Woody Allen fare.

Pretty, occasionally witty and not believable for a moment, Sophie Lellouche's Paris-Manhattan is suffused with fannish love for Woody Allen's films but hardly lives up to their legacy. A couple of nice moments, including a likeable cameo from Allen himself, don't add up to much potential in Stateside arthouses, particularly given the relative obscurity of the pic's actors on these shores.

Alice Taglioni plays Alice, a pharmacist who fell for Allen's work at 15 and made it such a part of her life that she now has imagined conversations with his portrait in her bedroom, hearing him deliver lines from his films in response to questions about love and ethics. The film would have us believe that Alice, partly due to avoiding feminine clothes, can't attract a boyfriend -- a tall order given that Taglioni's a knockout, and the character's brand of tomboy attire flatters her, even if it won't launch any Annie Hall-like trends.

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Similarly, the film's dialogue makes much ado about how nutty Alice's family is -- complete strangers tease her about it -- but never shows them doing anything remotely odd, unless a father trying to talk up his daughter's business at a cocktail party counts. (Some misbehavior emerges late in the film, but it's secret stuff that couldn't have contributed to the family-dysfunction rep.) One of the men Dad buttonholes, though, offers the film's closest thing to weirdness: Victor (Patrick Bruel) designs and installs alarm systems that, say, deliver high-voltage shocks to someone touching a valuable painting or knock out intruders with chloroform gas.

Alice and Victor strike up a quasi-flirtatious banter that loses a good deal in translation, and Lellouche hasn't learned much from her hero in terms of pacing and seduction. Scenes and subplots butt up against each other haphazardly, with no breathing room in between, and elicit fewer laughs than even the least entertaining of Allen's recent films. Many viewers will find themselves responding most warmly, in fact, to a clip in which Victor watches Gene Wilder make pillow talk with a sheep in Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask.

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Production Companies: Vendome, France 2 Cinema, SND

Cast: Alice Taglioni, Patrick Bruel, Marine Delterme, Louis-Do De Lencquesaing, Michel Aumont, Marie-Christine Adam, Yannick Soulier, Margaux Chatelier

Director-Screenwriter: Sophie Lellouche

Executive producers: Philippe Rousselet

Director of photography: Laurant Machuel

Production designer: Philip L'Eveque

Music: Jean Michel Bernard

Costume designer: Fabienne Katany

Editor: Laurent Poirier

No rating, 77 minutes