Midnight in Paris (2011)
Directed by Woody Allen
Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates
Woody Allen wrote and directed this winner of Best Original Screenplay at the 84th Academy Awards. This marked the third time he’s won the award, and his fourth Oscar over all. His career has included a total of 18 Oscar nominations and numerous other awards for his 41 feature films. This 2011 film features a number of popular actors including Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, and Adrien Brody. The movie also stars Tom Hiddleston, Corey Stoll, and Marion Cotillard.
Gil Pender (Wilson) and his fiancée Inez (McAdams) are vacationing in Paris with her parents while they prepare for their upcoming wedding. Gil has taken time away from his work as a screenwriter to work on his first novel. As they soak up the scenery of Paris, Gil finds himself taken with the wonders of the city, especially when it rains. When he decides to take a stroll at midnight, Gil finds himself in the company of the great artists of the 1920’s. With each midnight stroll he finds himself progressing with his novel, and learning more about himself. While he discovers his own views on a perfect life, he also needs to accept that his ideas might not be what Inez is hoping for.
This is my first real Woody Allen experience. (I know that film buffs and cinema fanatics everywhere will turn away disgusted as they read this….) For years I’ve heard of him and his movies, but I’ve never been exposed to his films. Seeking them out on my own wasn’t happening until this movie entered my radar midway through last year. Now I’m sold, Allen is a great storyteller. With his abilities as a writer and director it seems as though his movies must be exactly as he imagined them as he wrote. This film seemed to be a sentimental tribute to the past, and partially to Allen’s own idealism.
The acting in this movie was great. Wilson and McAdams both played their roles very excellently. The really interesting work was done by the stars who played the literary and artistic legends from the past. Each of these actors was forced to play a caricature of the person they portrayed. As they exaggerated the personalities of people like Hemingway, Dali, and Cole Porter they brought these people to life in fun and interesting ways.
The film work in the movie was great also. Cinematographer Darius Khondji made great use of the natural scenery and wonderfully designed sets. Paris is a beautiful city, and the movie captured the City of Light wonderfully.
The story isn’t for everyone. It’s a movie about fantasy and nostalgia that makes huge leaps to create the interesting plot. The characters are intentionally over-dramatized which might not make this a movie for everyone. Some critics were also less enthusiastic with the film. Richard Corliss of Time said the movie was “pure Woody Allen. Which is not to say great or even good Woody, but a distillation of the filmmaker’s passions and crotchets, and of his tendency to pass draconian judgment on characters the audience is not supposed to like… his Midnight strikes not sublime chimes but the clangor of snap judgments and frayed fantasy.”
I think this is a great movie with a unique look on the idea that the grass is always greener. The movie also looks at modern life and it’s comparisons to past generations. The movie is a love story with a wonderful romance that carries the story from beginning to end. The romance isn’t just about two people, it’s about romance with history and Paris.
I give this movie 4.6 out of 5 stars.