Midnight in Paris
By Emily Hopkins
Many have said Woody Allen has lost his game in the past few years. His latest films have been a bit more down-heartening and sour than some would have liked, evoking the sense that his best work lies in earlier decades.
Whether or not you’re a long-time fan of Allen’s, his newest effort, “Midnight in Paris,” is guaranteed to delight. It’s an uplifting film from the beginning, with beautiful scenery, beautiful actors and an incredibly interesting story to boot.
Allen has expressed that he’s been long enamored with the City of Lights since he filmed “What’s New Pussycat?” on location in 1965. His deep love for Paris is clearly personified in his new film. It starts off with an extended montage of popular Paris locales, a montage that is much too lengthy to simply establish location – it’s meant to establish a feeling, a sense of wonder, one that sticks with the viewer for the remainder of the fabulous ride.
We meet Gil (Owen Wilson), a less-than-satisfied Hollywood writer desperate to make it in the real literary world. Gil is traveling with his fiancé, Inez (Rachel McAdams), both tagging along with her wealthy parents on a business trip. It’s clear from the beginning that Gil and Inez couldn’t be more wrong for each other. He’s a romantic literary virtuoso taken by the charming appeal of Paris in the 1920s; she’s a hard-edged modern women, more concerned with keeping up with the Joneses and maintaining her current income level than supporting her fiancé’s career goals. It’s an interesting role for McAdams, an unlikeable character we haven’t seen her take on since Regina George in 2004’s “Mean Girls.”
The pair later happen to run into Inez’s friend Paul (Michael Sheen) and his wife, causing things to get even more bleak for Gil from here on out. Paul is a full-of-himself professor scheduled for a lecture at the Sorbonne, and Inez is obviously enthralled with his pompous intellect.
Drained by the constant battle of wits, Gil excuses himself from the group one night, choosing to take a midnight stroll rather than to go out dancing. And as fate would have it, Gil’s walk on the Rue Montagne St. Genevieve proves to be a far more rewarding experience.
Sitting on some steps and contemplating his lot in life, Gil notices an old-timey car pulling up next to him on the sidewalk. Jubilant voices call out to him, and white-gloved hands beckon him inside. Gil, with nothing better to do, accepts their offer and ends up taking himself on a whirlwind adventure through time.
What appeared to be a vintage car turns out to be a time machine, transporting Gil back to the 1920s that he so loves. Stumbling into a party, he comes across F. Scott Fitzgerald and wife Zelda (Tom Hiddleston and Alison Pill). As the party-going continues, he later meets Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), Pablo Picasso (Marcial Di Fonzo Bo) and Salvador Dali (Adrien Brody), among others. Oscar-winner Marion Cottilard also makes an appearance, though in what capacity you’ll have to find out for yourself.
Several plot twists occur not long after that, causing Gil to reevaluate his life decisions and notions of happiness.
“Midnight in Paris” is a joyful romp through a timeless city, a welcome break from reality in favor of a world full of glamour and excess. Not only will it reel in long-standing Allen aficionados, but it’s likely to bring in some younger fans for years to come. “Midnight” is a whimsical ride that shouldn’t be missed.
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