Movie Time: Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris is a romantic comedy about a Hollywood writer’s journey to Paris with his fiancée. While there he discovers a car that will pick him up and mysteriously transport backwards in time to Paris in the 1920’s.

It’s the newest Woody Allen film ( both written and directed by him). It features performances by Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates and Adrien Brody.

image from wikipedia

 

She Said: Midnight in Paris

 

I loved Midnight in Paris! I thought it was a lovely and charming movie. I love Paris and it’s a great dream of mine to someday visit the beautiful “City of Lights”!  Woody Allen wrote a beautiful love letter that was both entertaining and stunningly filmed.

 

The plot of the movie is really cool. Owen Wilson plays a somewhat disillusioned Hollywood screenwriter.  Gil is engaged to the very I feel “ugly American” Inez who has equally bad tourist parents. You know people who complain about the cuisine and continually pine for the comforts of America. You are in France people and in a nice hotel; you aren’t sleeping in a tent in a slum. I’m sorry ungrateful travelers bothered me because I haven’t gotten to travel. Anyway, Gil isn’t satisfied with his career and is trying to write his first novel. One night while on his own in Paris he discovers that a beautiful Peugeot will pick him up and transport him back to the Roaring 20s of Paris. He meets some of his heroes; Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso. He discovers that the car will be waiting for him on a specific corner at midnight. The journey he goes on is not only through time but is an interesting journey of self-exploration. I thought it was fascinating to imagine getting a chance to talk to these intellectual and artistic luminaries.

 

The acting in this movie is great. Owen Wilson finds perfect blend of himself and Woody Allen to render a pitch perfect performance. Rachel McAdams is wonderful as Gil’s seriously annoying fiancée. I love Rachel McAdams! She always throws herself totally into a character. Marion Cotillard is darling and interesting as Adriana, Pablo Picasso’s girlfriend, who becomes friends with Gil when time traveling. The actors who play all the wonderful fixtures of 20s Paris do a marvelous job. Kathy Bates is a terrific Gertrude Stein, Alison Pill is lovely and sassy as Zelda Fitzgerald and Corey Stoll is AMAZING as Ernest Hemingway!!! And the scene with Adrien Brody as Dali- awesome!

 

This film is so beautifully shot! The photography of Paris itself is stunning. I don’t think it’s overly polished at all but it reflects the true beauty of the city (cracks and smoke damage intact). I was completely enthralled from the opening montage of this gorgeous city.

I also loved the costumes in Midnight in Paris.  All of the clothing seemed so carefully selected. Rachel McAdmas looked like a wealthy California girl. It was always possible to tell the Americans apart from the Parisians simply by looking at their dress. And the period costumes were excellent. Sometimes color palettes can tend to be too garish to convey wealth or style to a modern audience but they were perfectly executed in this film. Adrianna’s wardrobe particularly was stunning but seemed to be period accurate. I really enjoy films that give a lot of careful attention to details.  And it never hurts if they are clothes I would love to wear, too!

 

I really liked this movie. I thought it was sweet, funny and beautiful. I loved how it was totally a Woody Allen movie and it always felt whimsical and new. I don’t usually like time travel pieces but I really enjoyed this movie. It was science fiction and it wasn’t about the method rather it’s about how we feel about the past and how those perceptions shape us. And I loved seeing all the people that I would want to have met and known in the 1920’s.  For a modern movie it’s really no more risqué than an episode of Friends. In fact in many cases I find that or a promo for GCB far more offensive. I will definitely buy this movie!

 

 

She Said Rating 8.5

 

 

He Said: Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris is Woody Allen’s love letter to the City of Lights.  From the first external shots that open the film to the final scene, Paris is the object of this movie’s affections.  It’s a character here, and a very important one.  It is the magic of the city itself that propels the lead character into the past every night at midnight to relive what he sees as the “golden age” of Paris.  Woody Allen has always exhibited a strong sense of place in his movies and this is no different.  The affection he shows for this city is very reminiscent of how important New York City was to his earlier works.

 

This movie is brilliantly filmed.  The color saturation of Allen’s Paris could make even the most jaded of Americans want to travel there.  The acting is wonderful.  Owen Wilson plays a role that clearly is a younger Woody, but never lets it feel like he’s doing an impression of his director.  That’s quite a feat given the strong voice the writing has.  If this movie were made 30 years ago, Allen clearly would have played the lead.  Rachel McAdams also shows great range.  And subtlety.  If you squint really hard, and listen just right, her character is a grown up Regina George from Mean Girls, if she’d had much better parents.  The characters that populate the past are written and portrayed wonderfully.  Most of these are real people that lived in Paris in the 1920’s.  Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway and Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein are definitely standouts.  They both struck me as the epitome of who those people must have been.  That’s not to downplay anyone else from these segments, as they are all very enjoyable to watch.

 

The plot moves along very well, but has some problems.  I think this is where the movie falls apart for me.  The very first meeting in the past with a new love interest for our hero shows us where his journey is headed, and what revelation he’s going to have at the end.  The best parts of this movie are when we’re spending time with the great artists and writers and dancers that resided in Paris in the 20’s.  It can be very fun, but unless you have an encyclopedic knowledge of the era, you’re likely going to miss the funniest parts while you’re running back and forth from wikipedia.  The movie doesn’t provide the backstory needed for a modern audience to enjoy these references.  The roaring 20’s were almost a hundred years ago at this point, so you can’t really expect people to know all of this at this point.

 

The writing here is classic Woody Allen.  If you feel like he’s gone out on a limb too much with some of his more recent material that’s set in Europe, you’ll be happy to know that like the artists of the 20’s that he writes about here, Allen has found his new home in Paris. If you like his neuroses, wandering eye, and preoccupation with his own mortality then you will be at home here.  For whatever reason, none of that connects with me.  I can appreciate that I’m watching a very well put together movie, but I can’t say that it’s one of my favorites.  I wasn’t waiting for it to end, but I could never see watching this movie again either.

 

Rating-3

 

 

Who do you agree with about Midnight in Paris?  Are you a Woody Allen fan, or do you think he’s overrated?  Tell us all about it!

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