We’ll Never Have Paris
Paris is the city of romance and the site for Humphrey Bogart’s affair with Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca – a beautiful memory that, no matter where life or war may take them, they will always cherish. However, for the more contemporaneous couple of Simon Helberg (The Big Bang Theory) and his wife and co-director Jocelyn Towne, Paris was the location of the saddest and most desperate moments in their ten-year-old pre-marital relationship.
Featuring two American sitcom favourites, Melanie Lynskey (Two and a Half Men) as Devon and, in “art-imitating-life” casting choice, Helberg as Quinn, We’ll Never Have Paris tells the true story of how he failed to propose to Towne on various occasions, due to lack of certainty, romanticism or fidelity. Zachary Quinto as Quinn’s best friend gives the story some amusing moments, while Alfred Molina and Judith Light, as parents of Quinn and Devon respectively, liven the film with their limited number of scenes. Unfortunately, the director fails to understand that just basing a story on actual event, does not necessarily make it vivid.
Just like its main character, the film sticks too much to the truth. It would have benefited from some coating or exaggeration, the reading of at least a couple of script-writing textbooks and better constructed, more likeable characters. Into the second half of the film, its hard to understand for whom or for what the audience should be rooting. It is sad that a real story with a happy ending comes off as so uninspired.
Quinn’s neurotic characterisation and a jazz music score inform some Woody Allen comparisons. Moreover, the film’s quirky, ironic tone aspires to emulate that balance between smart and digestible that many indie romantic comedies, including 500 Days of Summer, have acquired in the past few years. This cautionary tale of how life and romance are never black or white fails to honour its sources of inspiration – from Bogart and Allen, to Paris and even the author’s own love-story.
Helberg is certainly more an actor than a director, and all the performances in the film are spot-on. There are some interesting elements in the camera movements, jumpy editing and sound design that hint to some unrealised potential in his cinematographic entrepreneurship. In all fairness, only natural-born filmmakers are good in their directorial debut. Better luck the next time.
We’ll Never Have Paris is released nationwide on 9th October 2015.
Watch the trailer for We’ll Never Have Paris here: