French Kiss is one of those movies I watched a million years ago and thought was okay. But when E and I watched it again the other night, a rare thing happened. I liked it better the second time around. Maybe it's the fact that I've traveled a lot more since the first time I watched and can relate more deeply to a saga of stolen luggage and travel gone off the rails. Maybe it's my eternal devotion to Meg Ryan for starring in not one, but two of my all time favorite movies. Maybe it's the fact that I've unconsiously stolen her haircut. All I really know is that this time around, I loved this movie.
French Kiss is the story of a woman named Kate who sends her fiancee off to Paris for a business trip and loses him to a French goddess. He breaks off their engagement via a long distance pay phone call in thirty seconds. She is on the next flight, despite a deep and paralyzing fear of flying. Without a real plan to win back her man, she is a bundle of coiled nerves and exposed neurosis.
She ends up seated next to an arrogant and rude Frenchman called Luc (the always delightful Kevin Kline) who has a few items to hide at customs. He stashes them in the unsuspecting Kate's bag and the merriment begins.
Of course, her bags are stolen and she and Luc are sent scrambling all over Paris to recover them. One thing leads to another, and soon enough Luc is helping Kate to win her man back as we slowly begin to hope Kate and her fiancee never get back together at all.
This movie is undoubtedly silly and a bit contrived. But one of the reasons it worked so well for me this time around is that it tells some truths about the differences between French and American culture. It also tells the story of a woman who thinks she has her life all sorted out- she's just about to walk down the aisle with a nice guy, buy her dream home to fill with 2.5 children and surround with a border of tulips and a white picket fence. While watching that fantasy disintegrate just before she gets her hands on it, she realizes that in a way, she has been saved from a life half realized. She has been saved from a man who doesn't really love her and a life she only wanted because she thought he wanted it.
Instead, she is propelled into the now and has to learn to let go of her past or drown in grief. She is clinging to the familiar but vanished past because she is afraid to ask herself what it is she really wants.
Oh yes, and what she really wants involves a three hundred year old vineyard in the sun drenched south of France. And wearing little striped shirts and tasting the essence of lavender in a fabulous glass of wine. And learning to love herself instead of an idea. That could be why I liked it too. Maybe.
Have you watched any good movies lately? I'd love some suggestions for my Netflix que!