Midnight in Paris – Review
Film: Midnight in Paris (2011)
Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates, Corey Stoll, Tom Hiddleston, Adrien Brody, Michael Sheen, Lea Seydoux, Kurt Fuller, Mimi Kennedy, Carla Bruni, Alison Pill
Directed by: Woody Allen
Produced by: Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum, Jaume Roures
Written by: Woody Allen
Running Time: 94 minutes
The legendary Woody Allen returned to the romantic comedy scene in a big way in 2011 with Midnight in Paris. Allen has become too old to play the typical part of the young to middle-aged protagonists he creates, so in recent years, he has had to search for actors that can channel his unique style of wit, intelligence, and meticulousness.
Enter Owen Wilson, who truly shines as the Allen-like Gil Pender, a Hollywood screenwriter who is looking to go in a different direction by writing his first novel. He and his fiancee, Inez (Rachel McAdams; Wedding Crashers reunion complete), have traveled to Paris for business and for vacation. They are accompanied by Inez’s parents (Kurt Fuller and Mimi Kennedy), along with their pompous friend, Paul (Michael Sheen).
Gil is not only looking to delve into new artistic territory with his novel; his visit to Paris also ignites a desire to spend his life there instead of in California, and his nostalgic longing for the culture of the 1920s (nostalgia is also the central theme of his novel) is only intensified by his current setting. Inez, meanwhile, does not seem to care much about his aspirations, and urges him to stay rational as a money maker in Hollywood.
Eventually, the title of the film comes into play. When Gil is wandering around Paris alone one night and midnight strikes, he suddenly finds that he is in 1920s Paris. He meets several prominent names in literature and art, including Ernest Hemingway (played hilariously by Corey Stoll), F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston), Pablo Picasso (Marcial Di Fonzo Bo), and Salvador Dali (Adrien Brody). Through Hemingway, Gil even has Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates) read his novel and make suggestions.
Soon, Gil becomes smitten with Picasso’s girlfriend, Adriana (Marion Cotillard), thus finding himself in a weird position — he longs for a woman from the past while he is engaged to someone else in the present. However, he comes to find out that Adriana also longs for the past; in particular, the turn of the century. Gil loves the 1920s because it is different from his present, but Adriana loves the turn of the century because it is different from her present. Gil comes to realize that the idea of a “golden age” is purely relative, as everyone will find flaws in their present time and yearn for a period in the past that they perceive as perfect. When dreaming of a “golden age,” people only think about the best things of that time that directly counter the particular imperfections of their present. Here, Allen communicates a message that seems simple once it’s communicated, but in reality is quite deep.
As Gil becomes more aware of this truth, he returns to his present time with a different outlook and seeks to embrace the best things that that time has to offer. As Gil is going through this revealing journey, he is played extremely well by Wilson, who delivers the witty monologues of Allen while simultaneously incorporating his own unique mannerisms. Like much of Allen’s best work, Midnight in Paris features a high amount of humor (I was particularly amused when Dali and his friends did not find Gil’s time-traveling adventure to be weird at all, since they were surrealists) but also explores complex themes; this film in particular examines the idea of nostalgia. In communicating this message in this style, Allen effectively connects with core human thoughts and emotions.
Being a romantic comedy, Midnight in Paris does struggle to avoid predictability in its final act. However, Allen’s oft-used combination of humor, wit, and intelligence (which was embodied in a screenplay that just won a Golden Globe) makes the 94-minute film crisply entertaining and enjoyable.
Tommy D’s Score:
3.25/4 Tommy Ds
Posted on January 20, 2012, in Reviews and tagged Adrien Brody, Alison Pill, Carla Bruni, Corey Stoll, Golden Globes, Kathy Bates, Kurt Fuller, Lea Seydoux, Marion Cotillard, Michael Sheen, Midnight in Paris, Mimi Kennedy, movies, Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Tom Hiddleston, Wedding Crashers, Woody Allen. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.