Take one Woody Allen obsessed woman, transport her story from Allen’s famous Big Apple setting to the streets of the French capital, and you have the charming and utterly delightful Paris Manhattan. This slight (it comes in at under 80 minutes) and fluffy French romantic comedy sees jazz and cinema loving pharmacist Alice Ovitz (Alice Taglioni) on the search for love, all under the guidance of Woody Allen through the use of a poster and voiceovers.
Then there’s Alice’s Jewish family, constantly trying to set her up with eligible bachelors. Her father Isaac (Michel Aumont), from whom she inherited the pharmacy, and her on-the-brink alcoholic mother Nicole (Marie-Christine Adam) wish to see her marry, as does her sister Helene (Marine Delterme) and brother-in-law Pierre (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing). It’s a crazy mixed bag of eccentric characters that locksmith and security alarm designer Victor (Patrick Bruel) stumbles into when he meets Alice. Fate, or more so Alice’s father, see the two thrown together repeatedly despite Alice finally meeting someone else she considers to be the “perfect” man. Could Alice and Victor be made for each other, or will Alice’s skewed view of romance through the eyes of Woody Allen and his films see her miss out on true love entirely?
This is not just for Woody Allen fans – although they will derive a thrill from his brief cameo towards the end – but for anyone who adores falling in love with well-written and hilariously acted characters in the most romantic city in the world. Written and directed by Sophie Lellouche, her debut is an admirable effort despite its short runtime and arguably tired premise. The real winning ticket in Paris Manhattan is actor Patrick Bruel (Sabrina), whose Victor is goofy, utterly charming and is charged with the wittiest lines. Alice Taglioni (The Valet) is also a nice fit for the picture, and has a great chemistry with Bruel; it wouldn’t be hard to see the pair easily transported into one of Allen’s own Europe-set features.
Paris Manhattan is a rare and whimsical cinematic adventure. It doesn’t boast grandeur but allows you to bask in the warm and comfortable glow of offbeat characters on the quest for true love. It challenges our pre-conceived notions of romance before settling on a truly stereotypical romantic comedy ending that is safe yet satisfying.
Paris Manhattan arrives in Australian cinemas December 7, 2012.