Joined by his wife Jocelyn Towne, The Big Bang Theory‘s Simon Helberg turns director with autobiographical romantic comedy We’ll Never Have Paris. Helberg supposedly bases his film on a true story, making this charmless and aimless picture all the more tragic.
Neurotic thirty-something Quinn (Helberg) is planning on popping the question to his girlfriend of ten years Devon (Melanie Lynskey), until his colleague (Maggie Grace) confesses her love for him. This new found revelation results in the nervous Quinn botching his proposal and breaking-up with Devon. However, he realises he has made a huge mistake and attempts to win her back.
We’ll Never Have Paris is a romantic comedy with no focus, a film that simply drifts like its central character’s indecision. Quinn is a frustrating protagonist who boasts a self-deprecation that masks how a vile character he actually is. He’s needy, neurotic, and throughout the course of the film treats his girlfriend like dirt. This is the sort of man that kicks off at the thought of his girlfriend simply meeting with another man, whilst in the past week has slept with two other women. Helberg appears to be going for a quick-talking, Woody Allen like character but I don’t remember any of Allen’s characters being so slimy.
Given just how unlikeable that the child-like Quinn is, it is impossible to take the romantic quest of the film seriously. Devon is intelligent, pretty and altogether too forgiving of Quinn and it is a struggle to believe the two would ever be happy. The moments of sweetness feel too contrived- most notably one scene which sees Devon translate Quinn’s affections to her French-speaking grandparents.
At points there are slight moments of fun in We’ll Never Have Paris. Scenes which see Quinn travel to Paris have the farcical style of classic screwball comedies and a certain awkward amusement. Zachary Quinto adds some charisma to the feature, but is ultimately relegated to the sub-par hipster best friend role (he makes cocktails with chillies in them and everything), and Maggie Grace has some fun as Quinn’s pretty stalker admirer. All this comes as too little too late however, as the film’s core relationship never has the conviction needed to engage us.
This is going to attract Allen comparisons given the New York and Parisian settings, but this has otherwise little in common to even the worst of the veteran director’s films.
We’ll Never Have Paris is a charmless affair, lead by an unlikeable self-centred protagonist that we simply never want to root for.