Eleanor Coppola, wife of renowned filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, arrived at the Toronto International Film Festival this week with the sexy, charming road movie Paris Can Wait, her first narrative feature after decades in the industry. Acclaimed for her work in the documentary format (Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse), Coppola is now making waves with her new film, starring Diane Lane, Alec Baldwin and Arnaud Viard. Paris Can Wait centers on a woman confronting a mid-life crisis of sorts, who takes a brief respite from her neglectful film producer husband to take a trip through the scenic French countryside with her husband’s French business associate.
As the film begins, Anne copes with an empty nest, her daughter departing for college. The film then transitions into Anne’s mental escape, the character’s experience of a new world, and a celebration of all things French—the art, the breathtaking architecture, the culture and the food. Anne’s challenge throughout—dealing with dissatisfaction in her life—is to not fall prey to the charms of the alluring French bon vivant, who has set his sights on his colleague’s wife.
This week, Coppola and Viard stopped by Deadline’s TIFF video studio to discuss the film’s many charms, and the genesis of the project. “I never imagined that I would be making a fiction feature,” Coppola says, “but I had an experience that was strong and resonated with me that I was telling a friend, and she said, ‘Oh, that’s the movie I want to see.’” For Coppola, the project was a six-year process. Sharing a 45-page version of the script with family agent Bart Walker and eventual producer Fred Roos, the director was encouraged to continue her pursuits. “I did feel I was writing it more for women’s voices in the cultural dialogue,” she says. “I just kind of kept at it.”
“It was very surprising for me when Eleanor called me, and what I like in the role—the idea to meet Eleanor and do a film in English, it’s a tribute to France, this film,” Viard says. “I’m a kind of tourist guide, maybe, but I am very happy if a pretty woman in Paris comes to see me. I like the idea of this romantic comedy in a car—like a road trip—and also the idea of when two people meet each other, sometimes you don’t know them, but you become very intimate with somebody very fast.”
After bowing at the festival this past Monday, September 12, Paris Can Wait is, at time of writing, among a number of films by high-profile talent still seeking distribution.
To watch Deadline’s conversation with Coppola and Viard, click on the video above.