A guy carries an engagement ring around for years, but can’t quite bring himself to propose to his long time live-in girlfriend. Eventually she gives up, leaves town, and moves in with relatives in Paris. Once she’s gone, of course, he hops the next plane and shows up on her doorstep unannounced to beg for forgiveness. Oy!
I went into We’ll Never Have Paris cold… and fled from the theatre as soon as the credits started to roll. Simon Helberg, who plays the lead character “Quinn,” also wrote the screenplay and co-directed with his wife Jocelyn Towne (the writer/director of I Am I), so I wasn’t surprised to learn later that the story is semi-autobiographical. But Helberg dumbs himself down, pleading with the audience to laugh at him. Feh!
The casting is fundamentally flawed. Melanie Lynskey, plays Quinn’s beloved “Devon” as if she is a creature from another planet. They have no chemistry and no common interests, so it’s hard to picture them ever getting together in the first place. With no center, all the other folks who play bit parts around the edges are wasted. (JLH: 2/5)
Review of We’ll Never Have Paris by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky
Husband and wife team Simon Helberg and Jocelyn Towne bring their love story to life in We’ll Never Have Paris, a comedy based on their pre-marriage breakup. When scrawny florist “Quinn” (Simon Helberg) bores of his decade-long relationship, he breaks free from girlfriend “Devon” (Melanie Lynskey) and begins his descent into his quarter-life crises.
The first stop on Quinn’s mental checklist is his flirty co-worker “Kelsey,” (Maggie Grace) a wannabe-model who is comfortable kissing mirrors with her creamsicle lip-gloss. After the two have a bizarre sexual encounter, Quinn is put off by Kelsey’s immature behavior and unkempt lifestyle. He seeks advice from quirky pal “Jameson” (Zachary Quinto) and the two take a bro-vacation to forget about Devon – with no such luck. Quinn makes it his mission to win Devon back, even though she has jetted off Paris to find herself.
Helberg brings out his classic Howard Wolowitz charm, with comedic timing that has helped make The Big Bang Theory‘s Thursday nights so monstrously successful. Not only physically comedic, Helberg delivers blink-and-you-miss-it lines of dialogue that are so quick (and uncomfortable) that they are uproariously funny. In one instance, Quinn tells Kelsey that he proposed to girls in elementary school all the time. “I was in elementary school, too, at the time. Nothing illegal.” Similar dialogue is generously sprinkled throughout the film’s 90 minutes, with Helberg letting awkward moments linger extra long to get the extra laugh.
An element of We’ll Never Have Paris that isn’t quite believable is, in fact, the main couple. Although Melanie Lynskey gives a decent performance as Devon (a carbon copy of her quiet, tired character in HBO’s Togetherness) she has more chemistry in one scene with Mark Duplass than a feature-film’s worth with Simon Helberg. The love story is frustrating (especially since it is based in truth!) with Quinn acting, to put it mildly, as a hypocritical, narcissistic twerp. It would be fascinating to watch the bonus features to see how Helberg and Towne relived their not-so-glamorous relationship milestones.
The supporting roles are fun to watch, with each actor embracing the comedy genre. Zachary Quinto is humorous as peculiar Jameson, a man who plays with toys and mixes cocktails with “real habenero chilies.” Quinto, recognized for darker roles, delivers whimsical dialogue with a deadpan face. Alfred Molina is delightful with his small amount of screen time as Quinn’s eye doctor/father. But Maggie Grace is the most surprising player of all. Known for Lost and the Taken trilogy, Grace lends her comedic chops to the film and is notably better in this role than her work in action or drama. Jason Ritter (Helberg’s lifelong best friend) also makes an appearance as Devon’s brother, with one scene of dialogue, at most. Nonetheless, his presence is enjoyable. It’s Jason Ritter.
Overall, the story is cringe-worthy but, like a car crash, it’s hard to look away. Although not nearly as romantic as his ballad to his TV-wife (see HERE & laugh through your tears), seeing Helberg put his piano-playing talents to good use is a highlight. While promoting the movie on Live! With Kelly & Michael, Helberg explained the true events that the film is based on: as he self-destructed, his girlfriend ran off to Paris, to which he stalked her and showed up at her door. Kelly Ripa responded, “… to which she faked her own death?” Although that might have made for a more believable, interesting twist, We’ll Never Have Paris is filled with painfully awkward, sweet, sad, and real moments that fully encapsulate art imitating life.
Review © Brigid K. Presecky (1/26/15)
Middle Photo: Zachary Quinto as “Jameson” with Simon Helberg as “Quinn.”
Bottom Photo: Melanie Lynskey as “Devon” with Simon Helberg as “Quinn.”
Photo Credits: Sam Emerson
Q: Does We’ll Never Have Paris pass the Bechdel Test?
The entire story is told from Quinn’s POV. Even the scenes with Devon’s mom (played by Judith Light) are scenes Quinn has with her. We never see Devon in conversation with her own mother… or with any other female characters.
Fair enough. It’s Quinn’s story and that’s fine. But pass the Bechdel Test? No.