EIFF 2014 – We’ll Never Have Paris
In We’ll Never Have Paris, Simon Helberg writes and co-directs a fictionalised version of the events that lead to him almost losing his wife (co-director Jocelyn Towne) and the pains he took to win her back.
Simon Helberg plays Quinn, a socially awkward florist who is preparing to propose to his long term girlfriend Devon (Melanie Lynskey). He hits a snag when his attractive friend Kelsey (Maggie Grace) suddenly declares her love for him and lets Quinn know that for the first time in his life he has options. This causes him to make some mistakes and split up with Devon to experiment with other women. He decides he doesn’t like this and follows Devon to Paris in an effort to win her back.
The really interesting thing about this film is that it’s based on the true story of Simon Helberg and Jocelyn Towne’s difficult journey to becoming engaged. By their accounts the film is exaggerated but a lot of the story is more accurate than you might think, especially some of the more extreme elements which makes the film intriguing from a background perspective.
In general I liked this movie, Helberg’s Quinn is a good character who is awkwardly charming and likeable in a neurotic sort of way. Many have said that his character is Woody Allen-esque and I’d be inclined to agree here. Despite the fact that he was doing lots of stupid things and not always being a decent guy I was rooting for him throughout. Lynskey’s Devon comes across as an intelligent woman with a forgiving nature, explaining why she might put up with Quinn’s insanity the way she does. The chemistry between them is believable and natural as well as their interactions really giving the sense that they have a history together that is perhaps descending into relationship fatigue.
Other members of the cast are hit and miss. Alfred Molina as Quinn’s optician father is spot on as always, delivering some of the funniest lines in the movie, only criticism is that he’s not in it enough but perhaps it’s best to be left wanting more in that regard. Maggie Grace’s Kelsey is somewhat indistinct as characters go and I found her flighty nature a bit grating, she felt like more of a plot device than a character but she does the job of representing the temptress that shakes Quinn’s life. I would have liked it if she had been more of a forceful character intent on getting what she wanted. Zachary Quinto plays Quinn’s quirky best friend Jameson who is always up to something strange and gives such bizarre advice. I thought Quinto played the part well but I’m not sure the character was necessary for the story since he doesn’t seem to affect it much.
For the most part the story is well paced and the humour works more often than it doesn’t. Helberg’s script is very funny and the actors are well used for the most part, delivering those jokes convincingly. My main issue comes with the dialogue which doesn’t always sound like it comes out of the mouth of real people. I would accept it if Quinn was the only character who talked that way but most of the characters are prone to it. In a few cases it lifted me out of the film.
We'll Never Have Paris
Overall, this is an enjoyable and charming comedy that shows Helberg’s talents don’t purely lie in reciting jokes but in writing them as well. I do hope he’ll write and direct more as this was a very solid effort for him and the candid real life nature of the story only adds to the appeal.