‘Midnight in Paris’ is a romantic fantasy created by the one and only Woody Allen. Starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Adrien Brody and French First Lady,Carla Bruni, the plot reveals an American family visiting Paris. From the outset, Allen creates a world of contrasts; Gill is a day-dreamer Hollywood screenwriter struggling to finish off his first novel as opposed to Inez, a rich superficial girlfriend and her snob parents. Their perspectives on life seem to differ too. Gill wants to thoroughly discover Paris, mostly in the rain, going to old book-shops and looking for symbols of a long-gone Paris, while Inez and her posh parents go shopping, dine in expensive restaurants and purchase fine furniture.
‘You’re in love with a fantasy.’ The contrast of these 2 characters is perfectly reflected by the scene when Inez warns Gil of loving something unreal.
Owen Wilson takes the proxy-Woody role as a writer idolising the old-days, the bohemian Paris of 1920s. Showcasing an unexpected twisted character, Wilson plays it perfectly, offering a bemused, enthusiastic and at times naïve, charismatic man.
Expectedly, Marion Cotillard plays Adriana, the Parisian woman, a romanticised combination of the ‘femme fatale’ and ‘femme chic’ whose beauty attracts Gil instantly. Kathy Bates makes a great character as well, portraying a perfect Gertrude Stein who reads Gil’s novel and encourages him to carry on writing. Corey Stoll creates a genuine Hemingway who accompanies Gill in his literary pursuit.
The storyline begins in a tense, shallow present; however, one night while strolling alone in the city, Gil is approached by an antique vehicle whose occupants urge him to join them for a party. From now on, nothing will be the same. Gill accepts and so starts travelling back in time where he meets F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Cole Porter, Picasso, Salvador Dali and other prolific personalities of the 1920s’ lost generation.
Over the next few nights, Gil finds all sorts of excuses to go for a walk and so return to his fantasy world. He spends more and more time with Adriana, who despite being Picasso’s mistress, is portrayed through pure beauty and charm. They walk together on the streets of Paris before being transported to the Belle Époque, where the two meet Paul Gauguin and Edgar Degas. When Gil realizes that it is best to return to the present, Adriana chooses to remain in the Golden Age, so the two must take apart.
In the meantime, Gil is consulted by Hemingway and Stein on his novel, several scenes referencing strong ideologies of those who would become widely acclaimed over the years. Gertrude Stein is also the one who encourages Gil to see the reality as it is in his relationship with Inez.
‘Midnight in Paris’ is Woody Allen’s tribute to the early 20th century art and literature.
The film is full of the director’s love for Paris, its history and culture. From the very beginning, the city of Paris is gradually revealed by day and by night, placing the story in an already mystical set.
Also noteworthy are the framings, the pacing of the shots; the cutting in some scenes and the dissolves in others. Woody Allen proves to have put a lot of care and thought into his visuals. The film, a mere 94 minutes, has a real flow, reflecting the work of a director who was fully engaged by his material.
‘Let’s do it, let’s fall in love.’ The sound track of ‘Midnight in Paris’ is as exceptional as the script. You’ll hear the voice of Sidney Bechet, Conal Fowkes and other classic songs of the 1920s which fit perfectly the extravagant sets of Gil’s fantasies.
The film depicts a bohemian in love with femininity, with the idea of angelic women.
Everything is beautiful about this movie; the music, the costumes; the parties are exceptional, creating a romantic, yet exotic atmosphere, ready to be indulged by the public throughout the 94 minutes that it lasts.
‘Midnight in Paris’ premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and was received with widespread critical acclaim. In 2012, alongside an important number of worldwide nominations, Woody Allen’s film won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay.
This is all you need to you hear before watching ‘Midnight in Paris. And when you do, be prepared to feel nostalgic, romantic and in love.
BRADSHAW, P., 2011. Midnight in Paris – review. [online]. London: The Guardian. Available from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/oct/06/midnight-in-paris-film-review [Accessed 12 April 2012].
EBERT, R., 2011. Midnight in Paris. [online]. Chicago: Roger Ebert. Available from: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110524/REVIEWS/110529987 [Accessed 12 April 2012].
KENNY, G., 2011. ‘Midnight in Paris’: A Woody Miracle. [online]. Redmond, WA: MSN Entertainment. Available from: http://movies.msn.com/movies/movie-critic-reviews/midnight-in-paris/ [Accessed 11 April 2012].
ROBEY, T., 2011. Midnight in Paris, review. [online]. London: The Telegraph. Available from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/filmreviews/8811882/Midnight-in-Paris-review.html [Accessed 12 April 2012].
TONGUETTE, P., 2011. Midnight in Paris, and its antecedents. [online]. Mountain View, CA: eblogger. Available from: http://petertonguette.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/midnight-in-paris-and-its-antecedents.html [Accessed 12 April 2012].