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|Well Never Have Paris|
dir Simon Helberg, Jocelyn Towne
scr Simon Helberg
prd Simon Helberg, Jocelyn Towne, Robert Ogden Barnum, Katie Mustard
with Simon Helberg, Melanie Lynskey, Maggie Grace, Zachary Quinto, Jason Ritter, Alfred Molina, Judith Light, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Meredith Hagner, Dana Ivey, Fritz Weaver, Jamil Mena
release UK Jun.14 eiff, US 22.Jan.15
Don't leave me: Helberg and Lynskey
EDINBURGH FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Based on a true story ("unfortunately"), this romantic comedy struggles to overcome the fact that its central character is a deeply unlikeable, self-obsessed guy who has simply never grown up. So despite the charm of actor-filmmaker Helberg, it's simply impossible to root for him to have the requisite happy ending.
At 28, wannabe jazz pianist Quinn (Helberg) works as a florist and is thinking about proposing to his girlfriend of 10 years Devon (Lynskey). Then his sexy work colleague Kelsey (Grace) throws herself at him. Wondering if perhaps there's more out there, he consults his unhelpful pal Jameson (Quinto) and tries to talk to Devon. Which goes so spectacularly wrong that she packs up and moves to Paris to stay with family friends. And when Quinn follows her there, he's stunned to discover that she's already a little too close to violinist Guillaume (Ebon-Bachrach).
Helberg plays Quinn as a stammering geek who's only with Devon because they've known each other since they were kids. He's never been with another woman, and he can't quite cope with Kelsey's overt sexuality (followed by a ludicrous personality transformation ). But the film has the leery odour of the Woody Allen syndrome: a writer-director playing a nervous hypochondriac who has beautiful women throwing themselves at him. And Quinn is so socially inept, shallow and obsessive that he's impossible to sympathise with.
Opposite him, Lynskey is far more interesting as a complex, thoughtful woman genuinely trying to sort out her own feelings. But the script continually sidelines her. It also struggles to make any sense of Kelsey, although Grace has a lot of fun playing such a trashy character. At least things are livened up by high-profile cameos from the likes of Molina (as Quinn's dad), Light and Ritter (Devon's mother and brother).
There's also the whiff of a meaningful theme here, as the premise touches on the difference between complacency and true happiness. So it's deeply annoying that the script never develops this at all, merely focussing on the selfish, immature Quinn. "Your idea of self-deprecation is everyone else's definition of narcissism," Devon finally shouts at him. And yet the movie still dives into a wacky climax that awkwardly combines farce and slapstick to arrive at an ending that the characters simply don't deserve.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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