Film Title: Paris-Manhattan
Director: Sophie Lellouche
Starring: Alice Taglioni, Patrick Bruel, Marine Delterme, Louis-Do de Lencquesaing
Running Time: 77 min
We really shouldn’t give in to conspiracy theories. Nonetheless, it is hard to entirely shake the notion that Hollywood might have secretly financed this head-spinningly atrocious French comedy as a way of proving that, however awful US product may be, other nations can do much, much worse.
To press the point home, Paris-Manhattan features excerpts from Woody Allen films throughout its mercifully short duration. The result is merely to make Mr Allen seem more like a genius and the people behind this monstrosity more like . . . Well, let’s not get into unkind zoological comparisons. Anyway, who’s to say that the orang-utans in Le Jardin des Plantes can’t direct movies?
The central high concept behind Paris-Manhattan is not absolutely appalling, which is the closest to faint praise you’ll get here, mes amis. Gesturing towards Allen’s early Play It Again, Sam, whose hero carried on imaginary conversations with Humphrey Bogart, the picture hangs around a lonely (and implausibly pretty) young pharmacist whose only lasting relationship is with an idealised version of our Woody.
Indifferently impersonated aphorisms litter the soundtrack. We see clips from the movies. Eventually, allowing vanity to overcome good sense, the real Woody Allen turns up to provide a last-minute twist that I have just gleefully spoilt. None of the characters is plausible. None of the situations makes sense. All of the jokes are terrible.
You will get some impression of the sloppy writing from the scene which finds a fitter of burglar alarms – clearly marked down as the heroine’s eventual squeeze – lengthily outlining some improbable innovation that squirts chloroform into a robber’s face. Unless I’ve got this wrong, Chekov once argued that if a custard pie hangs over the fireplace in act one, then it had better get shoved in Aunt Agatha’s face by act three. Sure, enough, following contrivances of unimaginable laziness, the machine gets activated at just the wrong moment.
You will envy the victim his brief sleepy exit from the mirthless tedium. Bring me a Woody Allen film, any Woody Allen film. Come back, Cassandra’s Dream. All is forgiven.