Midnight in Paris
Midnight in Paris is Woody Allen’s latest film about a man who loves Paris and nostalgia which Allen gracefully provides in a whimsy and romantic manner. Allen does for Paris what he has done for New York in the past, cinematically capturing the city perfectly. Most people can agree, this is Allen’s best film in years.
Gil (Owen Wilson) is a Hollywood movie writer who is trying to give a shot at writing a novel but not having the easiest time with it. He is on vacation with his soon-to-be wife Inez (Rachel McAdams) in Paris, a city that he adores every square inch of, especially when it is raining. He brings up the idea of moving there once they are married but Inez does not share the same passion about Paris as he does and she hates being wet. In fact, the couple do not see eye-to-eye on much it seems.
The couple happen to run into some old friends who are visiting the City of Light as well. I decline to say mutual friends as Gil does not care much for Paul (Michael Sheen), a traveling professor who considers himself an expert on every subject on earth. Gil finds him very annoying whereas Inez finds him charming and fascinating. Paul asks if the two would be interested in going dancing and immediately they both respond with different answers.
While Inez and Paul are out dancing, Gil decides to take a walk around the city. He had a fair amount to drink that night so getting lost was not hard for him to do. He ends up on some church steps as the clock strikes midnight it’s bell rings. A few moments later a vintage car full of drunken Parisians pulls up and invites him in.
When the group ends up at a party that is when Gil starts to notice something a little…magical. The first person at the party he meets is Zelda Fitzgerald (Alison Pill). She is very eager to hear that he is a writer himself so she calls over her husband to tell him the news, Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston). He can barely believe what he is seeing.
He does not spend too much time trying to figure out how he ended in what he considers the golden age, the 1920’s, he just embraces it. Woody Allen does the same; he does not bother to explain how this time travel is possible as how is not the important part. Gil has always wondered what Paris was like in the 20’s and now he gets his chance to see it.
The next day everything goes back to normal but Gil can barely wait until midnight to see if the process repeats itself. He walks around until he finds the same church and waits for clock to strike midnight. When the bell rings sure enough the same old car pulls up transports him back in time. Gil runs into a long list of famous heroes including, Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll) and Salvador Dali (Adrien Brody). Gil realizes he finally found some people he trusts to critique his novel, something that he has never done before and what other perfect people do so than Stein and Hemmingway.
The story really picks up when he is introduced to Piacasso’s lover Adriana (Marion Cotillard). He instantly develops a crush on her. Gil and Adriana share one big thing in common; they both wish they belonged in a different time period. It is when Adriana fantasizes about being in Paris in another time than the 1920’s that he finally comes to a realization that life is a little unsatisfying and you can never think the present is the golden age.
Gil comes to this epiphany shortly after he heavily considers leaving his fiancé for Adriana. He does after all, get along with and share more in common with Adriana than we ever saw he did with Inez. The film does a great job making it about impossible to feel pity for Inez, she never seemed right for Gil from the start.
It is no secret that Woody Allen often portrays himself with protagonists in his films, Midnight in Paris is no exception, Owen Wilson might be the best actor to pull it off to date. Wilson may not come to mind as the perfect person for the role but he proved otherwise. He played the enthusiastic writer who is sometimes neurotically long-winded remarkably well. The rest of the cast also do a excellent job, especially Corey Stoll as Hemingway.