SPOILER ALERT: This interview contains plot details of the film Paris Can Wait.
Diane Lane received the Sarasota Film Festival’s Award for Cinematic Excellence on Saturday, where Paris Can Wait was the closing night event. The first feature by Eleanor Coppola (whose 1991 Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Journey was an acclaimed documentary about her husband Francis and the making of Apocalypse Now) was picked up last year at TIFF by Sony Pictures Classics and is slated for release May 12, so the timing couldn’t have been better.
Lane stars in this soufflé-light roman à clef as the wife of Alec Baldwin’s loving but inattentive film producer husband; when he strands her in Cannes to check out a production, planning to meet up the next day in Paris, his French associate (Arnaud Viard) offers to drive her. The seven-hour journey turns into a two-and-a-half day road trip marked by sumptuous meals, rare wines, overnight stays at romantic hideaways and, above it all, the question of will she or won’t she succumb to his persistent, if charming, flirtation – a question left hanging at the film’s end.
Before we get to that question, however, it should be pointed out that Lane is a trouper in more ways than one: In a face-off with retired NBA All Star Kenny Anderson that took place Saturday night on the stage of the Sarasota Opera House (he was there to promote his documentary, Mr. Chibbs) Lane sank three free-throws in a row – the last a total swoosh – before Anderson got the ball and hit only two of his first attempts.
I sat down with Lane after the screening.
Deadline: Your character, Anne, learns during the road trip that her husband, Michael, may not have been faithful (something she probably already knows). Among other revelations is that an expensive watch she gave him was given to another woman. So why doesn’t she sleep with Arnaud’s seductive Jacques?
Lane: You mean, yet? To me, the final moment of the film is really the question mark. Like at the end of Unfaithful – will they or won’t they? Are they going to Mexico or will they turn themselves in? Is Anne going to violate her oath, or is she going to entertain the notion and allow herself to be flirted with continually, going forward? The watch – look it’s a Rolex, its rose gold, but did she buy it with her own money? We can really pick this apart if we want to, but when something’s from the heart it’s from the heart.
“I’ve often thought about the films I’ve been in that were helmed by men, written by men, filtered through the editing process of the male eye. Are we asking terribly much of people to be curious and interested in the female experience from the female perspective?”
Deadline: So the personal aspect of the story, from the director’s point of view, came into it?
Lane: Anne’s not looking for an excuse to betray her vows. It’s not the style or the M.O. of the person in question. And it’s not an indictment of the choices, one way or the other, it’s more of an exploration of the themes that her life presented her. It’s brave even to admit that life does that. Life does that, come on! Life does offer you chocolate, whether you want to eat it or not. Is what Jacque’s doing really offensive, or is it just that you’re raw from some perspective that you hold about his behavior?
Deadline: Would Paris Can Wait be a different movie had it been directed by a man?
Lane: I’ve often thought about the films I’ve been in that were helmed by men, written by men, filtered through the editing process of the male eye and psyche and desire factor and marketability concerns…it’s so interesting. I’m left with the hope and wish that there will be enough to go around. Are we asking terribly much of people to be curious and interested in the female experience from the female perspective?
Deadline: And of course the film is marked by an American-versus-French sensibility about sex and marriage.
Lane: Americans have an interesting conundrum, a black and white line: You’re on one side or the other of Puritanism or licentiousness. But that gray area where people abide, between their ears or on the Internet, needs to be fleshed out more in terms of permission granted. I think a lot of women are contained within the parentheses of shoulds and role-play. It’s all about entitlement and history. It’s all about upper-body strength – and exacting your will.