First-time French director Sophie Lellouche, in Paris-Manhattan, takes viewers to Paris on a magical quest for an elusive goal – romantic love.
The 2011 film, hosted by the Chai Tea & A Movie series, is scheduled to be screened on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 5 p.m. at the Cineplex Odeon Sheppard Cinemas (4861 Yonge St.)
The spirit of the American director Woody Allen infuses Lellouche’s cinematic valentine. He appears in fleeting excerpts from his own films, as well as in a surprising cameo role.
Allen, the object of Alice Ovitz’s admiration and infatuation, seems to be her alter ego. Ovitz (Alice Taglioni), a single woman in her early 30s, is a pharmacist who seeks a suitable companion to ward off the painful pangs of loneliness. Her sister is married, but she appears to be hurtling toward spinsterdom.
As she waits for the blessed day when a handsome and intelligent man will sweep her off her feet, relieving her of angst about the future, Alice glances at a poster of a neurotic Woody Allen in her bedroom.
She likes him because he makes her laugh and “speaks” to her. In imaginary conversations, Allen assures Alice that life can be good and that work and sex are life’s most essential needs.
With a few quick skillful strokes, Lellouche creates the cloistered world of a soulful middle-class Parisian Jewish woman who’s defined and demarcated by family and profession.
Just when everything seems so hopeless, Alice runs into Victor (Patrick Bruel), the proprietor of a security alarm company. Victor, at first glance, appears grossly unsuitable. He is considerably older and, horrors of horror, he has never even seen a Woody Allen movie.
Nonetheless, Victor makes some headway, thanks in no small part to Allen’s sage advice.
The implicit message in Paris-Manhattan, a modestly conceived film distinguished by uniformly fine performances, is that care and consideration can sweep aside burdensome obstacles and, maybe, even lead to a flowering of mutual love.