Today: July 17, 2024
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Midnight In Paris

Woody Allen has always been one to split crowds, and Midnight in Paris contains all the usual classic Allen elements. Neurotic intellectual speculating on love and life? Check, Enticing young women? Check. City setting as integral character? Check. But what could have just been another ponderous Woody Allen film, is a surprisingly light and fun comedy.

Woody Allen has always been one to split crowds, and Midnight in Paris contains all the usual classic Allen elements. Neurotic intellectual speculating on love and life? Check, Enticing young women? Check. City setting as integral character? Check. But what could have just been another ponderous Woody Allen film, is a surprisingly light and fun comedy.

Gill Pender (Owen Wilson) is a Hollywood script writer, who is on holiday in Paris with uptight fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams), dining with her obnoxious, close-minded parents and being lectured to by pedantic pseudo-intellectual friend Paul (Michael Sheen). Gill would rather, however, be wandering Paris in the rain, soaking up inspiration for his novel. One night, frustrated with his companions and slightly drunk, Gill goes on a walk, where shortly after midnight, he is invited into a car by some strangers and finds himself in the 1920s. He quickly meets Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston and Alison Pill), and from there is drawn into the literary world of 1920s Paris, bumping into Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), and the delightfully flamboyant Salvador Dali (Adrien Brody). But he’s most intrigued by Adrianna (Marion Cotillard), Pablo Picasso’s former mistress and muse, who seems to be the opposite of his negative and spoiled fiancée. Gill is forced to make a choice between the present where no one seems to understand him, and the past where he can live in the Paris of his imagination, but where he doesn’t really belong.

There is a great idea behind the film: which avid reader wouldn’t want to go hang out in the left bank Paris with F. Scott Fitzgerald and T.S. Elliot? The film does seem to capture the spirit of the mood – or at least what I imagine the mood would have been – and the warm cinematography creates a dream-like, absinthe-infused haze. The film is also a great advert for Paris, depicted as a perfectly bourgeois city, where people sit in cafes all day, and there is no litter or poverty. First lady Carlo Bruni even drops in for a quick cameo to explain a Rodin sculpture, and do a quick translation. No doubt every young woman in Paris is as beautiful and obliging to earnest Americans as the women in this film. Owen Wilson plays a sort of relaxed Woody Allen, and while he did a good job of holding the attention, I found his American enthusiasm slightly grating at times. The other characters are basically caricatures, ranging from Inez the spoiled American princess to Hemingway the drunken author searching for honestly and courage. Despite this, it is a sweet and fun film, perfect for a Friday night in with a nice glass of French wine.

Midnight in Paris has received four Oscar nominations, for Best Picture, Best Director, Original Screenplay and Art Direction. Given the renewed attention the film has received in light of the Academy’s nods, the DVD release of the film could not have come at a better time.

Trailer

David Watson

David Watson is a screenwriter, journalist and 'manny' who, depending on time of day and alcohol intake could be described as a likeable misanthrope or a carnaptious bampot. He loves about 96% of you but there's at least 4% he'd definitely eat in the event of a plane crash. Email: david.watson@filmjuice.com

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