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Paris-Manhattan

Dir: Sophie Lellouche, with Alice Taglioni, Patrick Bruel, and Woody Allen

    This year's gala festival opening, Paris-Manhattan, is a frothy fairytale as light and inconsequential as your grandma's best spongecake - and it is all the better for that.

    Debut film-maker Sophie Lellouche has achieved the near impossible, making Woody Allen likeable again. Her joyous comedy places pharmacist Alice (Taglioli) in central Paris, apparently destined never to have a happy and lasting relationship like her sister. I did say this was a fairytale - anyone who believes that Alice Taglioli, who is drop-dead gorgeous, couldn't get a date, might be better off in another film fantasy.

    However - as she is a nice Jewish girl, albeit one obsessed with Woody Allen - her nice though eccentric Jewish parents do their best to set her up with someone. Enter Patrick Bruel, a big singing star in France in real life, called upon here to play the lovable shmerel – not really the man of Alice's dreams.

    Finally, however, in the cutest of cameos, Woody Allen comes to the rescue. Paris has never looked so beautiful (or so traffic-free), Woody has rarely looked so normal, and the festival has a gently funny romance, a worthy opener to the 2012 season.

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