Woody Allen’s become a bit of an international man of mystery. He used to write love letters to New York. Now he’ll write a love letter to Barcelona, London, and most recently, Paris. Most Woody Allen fans harp back to the supposed Golden Age of Woody Allen- think Annie Hall, Manhattan, Husbands and Wives... The Golden Age usually ends with Manhattan Murder Mystery. I never subscribed to the thesis that he used to be so much more witty, well-observed, literary, genius, absurd, or whatever adjectives you associate with Allen. If you do look back on his Golden Age though, Midnight in Paris would be a useful film for you to see. Indeed, I want you and anyone else to see this film and understand why people love Woody Allen.
Midnight in Paris follows Gil, a Hollywood hack (played by Owen Wilson) and his vapid fiancé, Inez (played by Rachael McAdams), as they visit Paris with her comically rich parents. Gil feels he’s never given writing a serious shot and dreams of becoming a real writer in Paris, walking in the rain. Like any tourist and foreigner the Paris he dreams of is the romantic world of the imagination. His particular nostalgia is for Paris in the 1920s, what he feels was its Golden Age.
Following a night of wine tasting and avoiding Inez, her parents, and her friends, he begins to wander the streets of Paris. At the stroke of midnight he is picked up by a 1920s car and arrives at a party to meet Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Over the next few nights, he meets Ernest Hemingway, Picasso, Dali, the entire literary scene and a perfectly French art groupie, Adriana (played by Marion Cottillard). He falls in love with her and the artistic world of Paris.
|Adrianna and Gil strolling by the Seine, as the city works its magic.|
The alternative reality and its glorious cast of characters inspires his writing, as he becomes increasingly detached from his fiancé. Unfortunately, Gil has to endure the artifice of his dead relationship during the day before he can return to the glee of 1920s Paris at midnight.
Wilson is a great protagonist as he’s likeable, modest and a romantic. Pleasingly, he's also conscious of the absurdity that he gets to live his fantasy. McAdams plays the superficial Inez perfectly, rarely giving Gil much eye contact, not letting him touch her, speaking in short, sharp sentences and comparing him unfavourably to a rival. Allen’s direction and writing seem to have created his vision of the marriage that shouldn't be very well.
Allen opens the film with loving, still images of Paris, and we too are ensnared by its beauty.
Midnight in Paris is a perfect date film, and a cute romantic comedy that men will be happy to see. Paris will do a rigorous tourist trade on the back of this film. Go out for something to eat or a drink and you’ll feel like you’ve had a romantic weekend away there too.