Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen’s more recent films have been…disappointing, to say the least (Scoop anyone?). But with Midnight in Paris, he has managed to win critics’ and viewers’ hearts again with a film that is being called his best in years.

Midnight in Paris is about a struggling writer called Gil (Owen Wilson) who is on holiday with his fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams). He has previously written successful Hollywood screenplays (self-reflective much Allen?) but now he wants to write a novel. He is obsessed with the past (the subject of his novel) and marvels at how amazing Paris would have been in the 1920’s when it was the height of the creative, bohemian revolution. He doesn’t have to wonder for long though…

One night when Gil goes for a walk by himself and gets lost, a strange old car pulls up. The people in the car insist he comes along to a party. But at the party he soon realises that these aren’t the usual sort of people he would hang around with. In fact, it’s not even his normal time period. Somehow he has actually travelled back to the wonderful 1920’s and he is soon partying with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Cole Porter among many others. He also meets a lovely French girl called Adriana (Marion Cotillard) who slowly makes him realise that his seemingly happy relationship with Inez might not be so perfect after all…

One of the great things about this film is the cameos of all the famous cultural icons: seeing these people come to life is a clever idea and very entertaining to watch. Corey Stoll brings Ernest Hemingway to life as a gruff yet intelligent drunk. And Tom Hiddleston and Alison Pill are great as the loving Fitzgerald couple. But it is Adrien Brody who steals the entire show as Salvador Dalí – he brings him to (crazy) life and actually quite weirdly looks like him.

The non-famous characters are good too though – Owen Wilson holds his own (and isn’t annoying which, let’s face it, often happens in his films) as the Woody Allen-esque character Gil, and he’s very funny at times. Marion Cotillard is also excellent as Adriana, but we all knew she would be anyway. And Rachel McAdams is also brilliant as his fiancée Inez, although to say much about her character would be giving away too much of the story. Let’s just say she’s domineering to say the least.

And how has Gil travelled back in time? It’s not the how, but the why: Allen uses the entire premise as a metaphor for the fact that most of us feel we were born in the wrong time and wish we could be a part of a bygone age where everything seemed to be perfect. Like Gil, Adriana is also unhappy with the time she is living in and desperately wishes she could live in belle époque Paris. The grass is seemingly always greener on the other side…

A quirky little film that is charming, funny and beautiful to look at, it has a crazy premise but Allen manages to pull it off and make it convincing and entertaining to watch, and the multiple cameos are an added bonus. Here’s hoping that Allen’s finally back on track.


~ by square-eyed-geek on October 28, 2011.

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