Directors: Simon Helberg / Jocelyn Towne
Starring: Simon Helbergh, Melanie Lynskey, Maggie Grace, Zachary Quinto
Running Time: 95 Minutes
The Edinburgh International Film Festival’s final curtain call this year comes in the form of Simon Helberg’s directorial debut, We’ll Never Have Paris. A whiny and neurotic study in how to fuck up a successful relationship; they may never have Paris, but something tells me Paris won’t mind.
Written, directed and starring The Big Bang Theory’s Helberg, We’ll Never Have Paris’s unimaginative plot revolves around Quinn (Helberg) – a bumbling, 20-something hypochondriac who, having decided to marry his long-suffering girlfriend, Devon (Up in the Air’s Melanie Lynskey), promptly bottles it when presented with a seemingly more attractive offer (a blond bimbo with an appreciation of his manliness and a desire to demonstrate it). On the advice of his single best friend, Jameson (a free-loving, bracelet/poncho-wearing Zachery Quinto), he decides to take time out of his ten year relationship in order to pursue all the other unrealistically attractive women in his life. Inevitably he soon regrets his decision and – in typical larger-than-life, Hollywood style – jumps the next flight to Paris in order to pursue Devon and his mixed-up notion of true romance.
Although there are definite Woody Allen influences, Helberg’s debut unfortunately fails to capture the neurotic Jewish male New Yorker with anything close to Allen’s penmanship or charm. While logic dictates the filmmakers have surely encountered women at some point in their lives (co-director, Jocelyn Towne being one, along with several of Helberg’s co-stars – this isn’t a Shakespeare play you know), the nonsensical and demeaning manner in which the women of We’ll Never Have Paris conduct themselves would seem to suggest otherwise. Despite Helberg’s best effort to obsessively whine, cry and generally irritate for the duration, he somehow escapes the accolade of being the most detestable character – his ‘understanding’ girlfriend, wilfully wandering the streets of Paris with him, instead claiming that honour. The other women of We’ll Never Have Paris don’t come across much better however; the beautiful blond bimbo stalking him throughout and the yapping one-night stand also defy belief. And that’s not to say that most men wouldn’t also have a problem with the filmmakers’ representation of the XY chromosome too.
The ‘French’ soundtrack originally so endearing, soon begins to grate (much like the rest of the film’s characteristics) and while there are several highly-respected actors involved, they are wasted in clichéd and often pantomimed roles. Dana Ivey in particular, is grossly under-used in the role of Devon’s French grandmother – bandied marionette-like through her few short scenes.
With an ending that defies all human logic, We’ll Never Have Paris leaves the sort of bad taste that even the finest Bordeaux won’t erase. The only remaining option would be to down your French plonk and hope against hope that the ensuing alcohol-induced coma doesn’t consist of similar repetitive scenes of male neuroses.