Eleanor Coppola (wife of Francis Ford and mother of Sofia) is making her own name in the world of narrative film, with “Paris Can Wait,” starring Diane Lane, Alec Baldwin and Arnaud Viard.
Until now, Coppola is best known professionally for the 1991 documentary film “Hearts of Darkness,” about the making of her husband’s film “Apocalypse Now.” As for why she felt the pull of a narrative feature at this point in her life, she said it was simply good timing.
“I was at this point in time where I had this idea to do it, and I thought I’d give it a try,” Coppola said Thursday evening — which happened to be her 81st birthday — from the SoHo garden of Ladurée, where the Cinema Society was hosting a party following a screening of her film. “It was very challenging, because it is the opposite of a documentary.”
“Paris Can Wait” is rooted in her own life experiences, and opens with Lane in Cannes for the film festival to accompany her workaholic husband, played by Baldwin. He soon departs for another business trip, leaving Lane in need of making her way to Paris; enter a charming Frenchman who is more than happy to take her on a roadtrip through France with, as the title suggests, some off-course diversions along the way.
“It’s loosely based on a trip [I had], but then I fictionalized it and had a lot of fun developing it into fiction,” Coppola said of the story line.
Lane, who is the film’s lead, has been a family friend of the Coppolas since her work with Francis Ford in 1983’s “The Outsiders” and “Rumble Fish.”
“I’ve known her but just because she’d worked with Francis — I wasn’t a friend of hers,” Coppola said of the casting. “So this was the first time I got to know her more deeply, more than just superficially. She was just so on point — she really understood that part and she brought such a wonderful radiance to it.”
In addition to a female director and lead, “Paris Can Wait” came together at the hands of a mostly all-women crew. “It just kind of turned out that way. I had a woman costume designer I wanted to work with, I had a woman producer and then someone suggested this woman to do the score. It just kind of organically came together,” Coppola said. “I had a woman cinematographer that I loved, and a woman first AD. I think women would be about to capture more the essence of women everywhere — more than men. I think it’s a woman’s story.”
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