' ' Cinema Romantico: Some Drivel On...French Kiss

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Some Drivel On...French Kiss

As previously noted, My Beautiful, Perspicacious Wife has been curating a stay-at-home Rom Com fest throughout the pandemic. Her latest programming selection was Lawrence Kasdan’s 1995 “French Kiss”, previously unseen by me, starring first ballot Rom Com Hall of Famer Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline with a French accent and a glorious moustache. The movie itself is, like, strange? Ryan is an American living in Canada who follows her fiancĂ© (Timothy Hutton) to Paris after he phones to indicate he has met a Parisian woman and intends to marry her. On the transatlantic flight Ryan’s character Meets Cute with Kline’s charismatic jewel thief, the latter smuggling home a stolen diamond necklace. The movie’s own air suggests general indifference to the plot, not really working to make these various complications and convolutions sing, even as it strangely remains overly dependent upon them, especially moving into the homestretch, trying to ramp up stakes that already feel as if they got ditched by the side of the Seine. Like I said, a strange experience, like an American in Paris who cannot decide whether to stick by the guidebook or go with the flow. Nevertheless. 

Anyone who knows me knows my long obsession with the Eiffel Tower appearing in movies and its magical ability to be glimpsed from everywhere. My friend Daryl and I used to joke about making a movie scene in a Parisian apartment where you gradually realize all four windows on all four walls somehow have a view of the Eiffel Tower. So I confess, I was amused by “French Kiss’s” recurring Eiffel Tower shtick. 

First, Meg Ryan totally misses the legendary latticework as it passes behind her.

Later, she misses it again when she meanders into the middle of the avenue...

...and, as if sensing its presence, turns toward it the split-second after its sparkling nighttime lights shut off, le tour de Eiffel as Snuffleupagus. 

Finally, of course, on her way out of the city, there it is, looming. And that might seem a stretch except it was only on our last night in Paris that My Beautiful, Perspicacious Wife and I realized you could see the Eiffel Tower searchlight from the window in the apartment where we were staying which isn’t exactly the same but close enough.

Of course, you don’t come to a Meg Ryan Rom Com for the Eiffel Tower; you come for the Meg Ryan facial expressions. Like this one, as Kevin Kline says one obnoxious thing or another, which leads directly into...

...an even better one accentuated by Kline’s quizzical expression rebuttal...

...unbelievably usurped by this judgy one as he imbibes his pilfered mini bottle of vodka. “Who is this character?” she seems to be wondering. “The love of your life!” we reply in unison.

And though the screenshot fails to capture it, this eye roll in motion would satisfy the curiosity of any of the kids out there, those darn kids, about why, once upon a time, Meg Ryan was as big a deal as Billie Eilish memes. Meg Ryan facial expressions were our memes. 

Speaking of The Kids...here’s a screenshot for them. Weird, wild.

But back to the facial expressions. Because while Meg Ryan is Meg Ryan, well, an emergent subplot of “French Kiss” is how Inspector Jean-Paul Cardon (Jean Reno), who I chose to believe was Vincent before he became a “Ronin” (1998), is on the trail of Kline’s thief but also Kline’s protector because the thief once saved his life, a knotty little relationship that is not played knotty at all. Indeed, after Kline evades the Inspector by hopping a train, we get this Reno reaction...

...which is just about the most quasi-grudgingly respectful “You rapscallion” expression I’ve ever seen. Maybe “French Kiss” wasn’t so transitory after all. 

16 Baguettes out of 30

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