in Review

We’ll Always Have Paris

Midnight In Paris

I always love a good Woody Allen movie.  But the quality of his output has been a little inconsistent in the last fifteen years or so, which has led to me seeing very few of his recent films.  So when I saw the positive reviews for his latest film Midnight In Paris, I figured I might as well try and see it.  I mean it sure beats spending money on The Green Lantern.

From the one trailer I saw for Midnight In Paris, I get the impression that there was an attempt to keep the actual premise of this film under wraps, but I have no problem spoiling it since most of the people who read this blog have already seen the movie.  Anyways, it follows Gil (Owen Wilson), a hack screenwriter with literary ambitions who is on vacation in Paris with his fiance Inez (Rachel McAdams).  One night while walking the streets of Paris, the nostalgic Gil inadvertently takes a cab that transports him back to 1920’s Paris, in which he encounters Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Cole Porter, Pablo Picasso, and many other of the great artistic minds of the era.

Now from the plot, the most similar film in Woody’s catalogue would have to be 1985’s The Purple Rose of Cairo, another nostalgia-fueled film with a fantastical premise.  And just like Purple Rose, Midnight In Paris really has a perfect blend of fantasy and comedy, along with plenty of Woody’s commentary on art, life, and relationships.  It’s also another one of those films that is quite simply a love letter to Paris, past and present, and you get the idea that Woody has just as good a feel for Paris as he’s shown for New York in so many of his films (not that I’d really know, considering I’ve been to neither city).

Of course much of the film’s appeal is getting know all these great artists and writers of the ’20s through the eyes of Owen Wilson’s character.  These takes on these iconic figures are often quite funny, such as the way a machismo Ernest Hemingway speaks in terse, comma-fueled prose, or Salvador Dali’s obsession with rhinoceroses, but there’s still plenty of wisdom that the characters reveal in terms to Gil’s overall story of being caught in a loveless romance and an unfulfilling profession.  All the performances are quite entertaining, though my only real quibble with the film is the one-dimensional quality of Rachel McAdams’ character, who does little more than come off as a whiny shrew.

As much as I admire a more serious film like Match Point, which is probably Woody’s most acclaimed film in the past ten years or so, Midnight In Paris really is the kind of film that reminds me why I love Woody Allen.  It’s got that fantastic light touch, with a perfect blend of comedy and profundity, and it just has a simple kind of magic to it.


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