Sunday, October 23, 2011

Midnight in Paris

By s. Sunday, October 23, 2011 , , , , , , ,
(94 min, 2011) 
Plot: A romantic comedy about a family traveling to the French capital for business. The party includes a young engaged couple forced to confront the illusion that a life different from their own is better.
Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Stars: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams and Kathy Bates

From Paris with magic

“The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because its only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on. If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. You can change the way people live their lives. That's the only lasting thing you can create.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Choke

I went to see “Midnight in Paris” because ever since I was fifteen I haven't missed any of Woody Allen's movies. I knew nothing about the film and I really didn't expect for it to have a fantasy element. I thought it's going to be typical Allen's movie with neurotics and amusing situations, witty dialogues and classy cinematography. Well, “Midnight in Paris” has all of that but in the fashion of “The purple rose of Cairo” it also has fantasy in it. It's not the best movie Allen made since “Hannah and her sisters” as many overeager reviewers seem to think, but it's certainly one of his best films.
Gil is about to marry Inez, but before they get married he goes on a trip with her and her parents to Paris. Gil is an aspiring writer and he instantly falls in love with the city. All he wants to do is walk in the rain and soak up the atmosphere. One evening he is walking around the town alone and when the clock hits midnight, much like for fairy tale's Cinderella, a carriage appears and magically takes him back to the 20's – Gil's favorite era. There he meets Scott Fitzgerald and his erratic wife Zelda, Ernest Hemingway and others. He also meets Picasso's muse Adriana and falls in love with her.

Gil and Inez are completely not right for each other – in fact Inez is the most annoying female in Allen's universe since Cristina Ricci's Amanda in “Anything else”. McAdams is doing really good job here – I was hoping somebody would slap her across the face. When she is asked why she wants to marry Gil she responds “he is smart and successful”. If a character responds like that, you know by the movie is over those two will not be together.
Owen Wilson plays Gil with a lot of humor and charm and may be the only one of two actors – along with Jason Biggs – who actually succeeded in channeling Woody Allen's typical main hero vibe without coming out as fake and annoying (as for example Kenneth Brannagh did in “Celebrity”). Not only is Wilson making Gil likable he is actually very funny. But acting standouts include Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway, and Adrien Brody, quite possibly the most memorable part of this movie, as rhinoceros obsessed Salavdor Dali. Marion Cotiliard delivers charming work as Adriana, muse of the painters, but I liked Alison Pill's Zelda Fitzgerald portrayal much more. I was a bit disappointed to see how few scenes Michael Sheen had, he was fantastic playing pseudo intellectual who annoys Gil and impresses Inez every step of the way. There are also three scenes featuring France's first lady herself Carla Bruni and we get to see Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein.

The film opens differently than other movies by Allen – usually we immediately see black cards with credits on them, but this time they are preceded by 210 seconds of shots of Paris. That prologue manages to accomplish something that was done in, for example, “Before Sunset” - it makes you feel as if you were there. Also like the best of Allen's movies the film reveals a little bit of truth about each and every one of us – we will always idealize the past, the era we don't live in.But if we were there it would become our present and we would want to change it yet again. Why? Because life is one big chase and we are always looking for something better than we already have.

The movie is light as a cloud on Paris sky – it is filled with likable and sweet characters, funny situations and excellent dialogues. It also has a lovely ending - the kind that we saw in Allen's movies many times – all is well and thanks to one line spoken by lovely Lea Seydoux we see that there is such thing as magic. Even in our world, even in our time.

1 comment:

  1. Adrien Brody was perfect! Actually the scene with Dali, Man Ray and Luis Bunuel was probably one of the funniest in the movie.