French Kiss

Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline costar in a genuine odditya Francophobic romantic comedy set in France (1995). Ryan stays behind in Toronto when her fiance (Timothy Hutton) goes off to a medical conference in Paris, but when he phones to tell her he’s fallen in love with a Frenchwoman, she becomes so unhinged that she flies directly to Paris to win him back. Kline plays a French petty criminal sitting next to her on the plane who dupes her into getting involved with his smuggling scheme, and by the time they’ve visited his family’s vineyard and followed the fiance and his new girlfriend to Cannes, their own romance has started to blossom. The film’s almost systematic misrepresentations of France and the French, ranging from Kline’s accent to the geography of Paris and Cannes to the ways French people talk to one another, seem based less on stupidity than on cynical calculationthe realization that Americans are more comfortable with stereotypes than with real-life places and people. Ryan’s most winning quality, her sensuality, seems defeated by the project; but she’s one of the producers, so who’s to blame? Hollywood hack Lawrence Kasdan directed a script by Adam Brooks; with Jean Reno, Francois Cluzet, and Susan Anbeh. 111 min. (JR)

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