Verdict: 4.5 / 5
Woody Allen seemed to have had quite a few missteps recently. Thankfully the magic of Paris and the mystique of an era gone –by have returned the director his groove. Midnight in Paris is Allen’s love letter to one of the most beautiful cities in the world, home and Mecca for artists, poets, musicians and writers from the Golden 1920s. Filled with light-hearted fantasy and a touch of nostalgia, it’s easy to declare Midnight in Paris his best work in years.
Gil (Owen Wilson), a screenwriter who tries his hand at writing a novel, visits Paris with his fiancée, the practical-minded Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her haughty parents (Kurt Fuller and Mimi Kennedy). Although he is struggling with writer’s block, he believes that living in Paris will be the perfect inspiration for his work. While he fantasizes about enjoying walks in the Paris rain, Inez and her parents(typical high-class Americans) do nothing more than shop and complain.
When Inez meets up with Paul, an insufferable know-it-all professor, who Gil detests, he feels even more excluded. Dejected and alone he decides to take a midnight stroll through Paris when a vintage taxi pulls up transporting him back to the 1920s.
At first Gil is in disbelief, but he soon accepts the events that follow as a reality. He meets F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Salvador Dali and many other famous Parisians, who all inspire him to complete his novel.
Like all the other Oscar Nominated films this year, Midnight in Paris is a history-lesson and a reminder not to forget the art of yesteryear. Yet, even in doing so, it never becomes preachy and subtly hides its messages behind clever fantasy.
As you would expect with all Woody Allen movies, the actors give uniformly good performances, especially Owen Wilson. The dialogue fits perfectly with Wilson’s offbeat comic rhythms and he does an impeccable job of channeling Allen’s neuroses and eccentricities.
Allen has a lot of fun with the 1920’s artists, especially Hemingway, who comes across as a supercilious macho intellect. Then there is also Adriana (Marion Cotillard), the groupie and love interest of the various men, including Gil, Hemingway and Picasso. Unfulfilled, she dreams of the 1890s, a time she believes was far more exciting.
While the outcomes remain predictable, the journey is nothing short of charming. Midnight in Paris certainly isn’t Woody Allen’s funniest movie, or his most romantic, not his deepest either, but definitely his wisest.