Picks and Pans Review: French Kiss
What a swell movie this is. French Kiss, a romantic comedy, is like the perfect croissant: light, buttery and a touch sweet. Chief among its delights is Meg Ryan, who, in a performance that echoes—and this is meant as praise—Doris Day in her That Touch of Mink phase, is adorable as an eminently sensible woman who finds herself behaving in a most irrational fashion.
Ryan plays an American who flies to Paris in pursuit of her fiance (Timothy Hutton) after he jilts her for a luscious French dish (Susan Anbeh). Her seatmate on the plane is a smug Frenchman (Kline), a thief who, knowing that he will be searched by customs, stashes his loot in her knapsack just before deplaning and then has to follow her to recover it. This is, of course, a tried-and-true plot device (check out Desire, a 1936 Marlene Dietrich-Gary Cooper classic in which she's a jewel thief and he's the gullible American). But, hey, these two must meet cute somehow, and it beats having them fight over the same Chanel suit.
Kline, who has demonstrated before that he excels at playing charming bounders (A Fish Called Wanda), has a lot of fun, especially with his French accent, going gutteral every chance he gets. Hutton, in the Ralph Bellamy role, seems uncomfortable throughout, as if his shoes were a size too tight, while Laurent Spielvogel shines in a small part as a hoity-toity hotel concierge. Director Lawrence Kasdan, after last year's gloomy, brooding Wyatt Earp, seems to be savoring all the sun-drenched shenanigans here. He keeps Kiss moving briskly, without sacrificing the kind of wistful moment (the nighttime lights on a shimmering Eiffel Tower go dark just before Ryan turns around to look) or throwaway comic scene (Ryan, in the midst of bickering with Kline, suddenly notices her surroundings and says, "Oh, beautiful. Lovely. Wish you were here") that do little to advance the plot but add immeasurably to one's enjoyment of the movie. (PG-13)