Archive Review – “Midnight in Paris” (Director: Woody Allen)

First published 09/07/12

Midnight in Paris

Gil Pender is a successful Hollywood scriptwriter on vacation in Paris with his fiancée Inez and her family.  He is also struggling to write his first novel, something that Inez sees as nothing more than an empty pipe dream.

When Gil gets a lift from a vintage car after getting lost in Paris’s back streets, he is magically transported to the artistic Parisienne culture of the 1920’s where he meets the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemmingway, which not only reinvigorates his passion for writing but stirs a desire within Gil to live in Paris despite Inez’s misgivings.

Okay, I’m probably going to commit a cardinal sin of any serious movie enthusiast and admit that I have never seen a Woody Allen film.  However, one of my friends on Twitter who, upon hearing that I have a bit of a hankering to visit Paris, suggested that I see this film… and I’m really glad that she did because I was rewarded with 90 minutes of beautiful film-making.

The tone is set up with the opening three minute montage of the sights of Paris, ranging from the well known such as the Moulin Rouge, the Seine and the Eiffel Tower to its lesser known streets and cafes.  It’s a film that celebrates romance – not only through the location of Paris, but the whole idea of Gil’s wanderings through Paris and his meetings with literary and artistic figures.

Owen Wilson’s performance as Gil is an example of acting fitting the tone of the film.  I’ve seen him in films such as “Starsky & Hutch” and “Marley & Me” and he takes the gentle, easy-going persona that he’s built his career upon and made his performance work with the gentle comedy as he gives Gil a romantic, rambling nature of a man who is not satisfied with his lot as a screenwriter and even in the seemingly ideal relationship he has with Inez, portrayed by Rachel McAdams.

There are some fantastic supporting performances within this cast, even in the cameos.  In the contemporary twenty-first century world, you get the likes of Michael Sheen as Inez’s friend and “pseudo-intellectual” Paul, Carla Bruni as a museum curator who provides Gil with some useful information and Lea Seydoux giving a performance as far away as possible to her performance in “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” as antique seller Gabrielle.

In the 1920s world, you get Tom Hiddlestone (okay you Loki fangirls, you can stop screaming now) and Alison Pill (I didn’t recognise her as being Kim Pine from “Scott Pilgrim”) as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda, Kathie Bates as Gertrude Stein, Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali and Marion Cotillard as the beautiful artists muse and subject of Gil’s fascination,  Adriana.

The script by Woody Allen is witty without being too high brow (considering the fact that it features an artistic community as one of the film’s core locations) and his direction is beautiful making full use of the Paris locations to make it into an additional character of the film.

This is a film that celebrates romance, whether it be the romantic temperament as represented by Gil’s passion for wanting to write a book and the community with whom he mixes or the concept of romantic love and finding the person who you want to share your life with.  It is also a cautionary tale to the viewer that sometimes the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and that there may not be that “golden age” that of fulfillment that you yearn for.

An enjoyable film.

Rating: 4.5/5

And to the Twitter friend who suggested the film to me, “Thank you, I really enjoyed it… Now, I’m going to really have to get my backside into gear to go to Paris.” *Big Hugs*

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