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Kate Hudson (Almost Famous) lights up the screen as Isabel, a film school dropout who jets off to Paris when her pregant step-sister Roxy (Naomi Watts, Mulholland Drive) is abandoned by her husband. Soon, Isabel has a scandal of her own when she falls for an older man who's related to Roxy's cheating husband! Ths stylish romantic comedy by the acclaimed Merchant Ivory team (The Remains of the Day) features a top cast, including Stockard Channing, Glenn Close, Matthew Modine and Bebe Newirth.
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In any case, what is billed as an observation of cultural differences is really more of a long-stare at Parisian style as Americans see it. The American family of the two sisters, who come over to offer support during the divorce process, is nice enough---very informal, not one to stand on tradition--at least not on purpose---and the brother, representing the Red States, is obsessed with the value of a family owned painting that the older sister took to Paris, and which has now become a source of enmity within the divorce, and the attention of major museums.
Well of course, being French, the conservative in question is dirty old Uncle Thierry, an elegant womanizer who is tolerated by his wife and never exposed by the press. Oh the French, even their conservatives have fun! Sadly, he buys every one of his girls a red Grace Kelly bag from Hermes, and the dopey new American girl carries it everywhere, even when informed about its significance.
One of the movie's extended cameos is Glenn Close who plays a professor for whom Kate's character ends up working, and as it turns out, one of Uncle Thierry's former Kelly Bag recipients.
Of course, there's still the question of Le Divorce, which sort of hangs over the film---not in any menacing way, it keeps things moving when the production team forgets what the movie is about. So, as it turns out, the french hubby has a mistress too (it runs in the family) but she also has a boy friend, or is she married too? I forget. Well, needless to say the boyfriend is an American, which means he's crazy and he's got a gun...
It might be Merchant Ivory, but no one said we were dealing with high culture here. At least this one has french people in it---unlike Woody Allen's film which featured Paris in three eras with practically no french people in any one of them.
Most of the movie takes place indoors so you really don't see much of Paris, although there is a nice vignette expounding on french women and their scarves.
It's a romantic comedy. If you like the genre, you'll probably like this film. If you're coming from Merchant Ivory, you may not. Or maybe you will. It's entertaining. I've seen much worse.
With the exception of the dumb scene where the red purse floats down over Paris animation-style, this is a really, really, really good movie.