Woody Allen’s latest, Midnight in Paris, is an amusing fantasy with a slight but charming hook. Gil (Owen Wilson) is a frustrated American novelist who writes — and rewrites — film scripts for a living in Hollywood. He yearns for something deeper, more creatively satisfying, more romantic. Vacationing in Paris with his fiancee Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her boorish wealthy parents John (Kurt Fuller) and Helen (Mimi Kennedy), Gil finds himself deeply smitten with the city, plotting a move to a bohemian atelier where he can devote himself to his novel. However, his shallow future wife will hear nothing of the sort. Gil’s romantic longing to live the writer’s life in Paris plays out in an outrageous bit of time travel. One night while ambling through the streets of the city at the stroke of midnight, he is set upon by a group of flappers in a vintage touring car. They whisk him away to a party where F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and Cole Porter are all in attendance. But at some point each night, the coach becomes a pumpkin again and Gil is back in the age of shopping sprees and fancy restaurants with a self-satisfied couple from back home, Paul (Michael Sheen) and Carol (Nina Adriana), who Inez and Gil run into in Paris. Allen is an expert name-dropper, and in Midnight in Paris, he is off the leash in that regard. His copious references to painters and writers are meant to give his middlebrow audience a glow of self-satisfaction at recognizing names like Luis Buñuel, Salvador Dali, T.S. Eliot, Henri Matisse, Gertrude Stein (a charming Kathy Bates), and Ernest Hemingway. In the past Gil is embraced as a talent, one of the artistic community, even if the people doing the appreciating can sometimes come off as wax museum caricatures of famous people come to life. In the Paris of the ’20s, Gil also falls hard for an artist groupie, the dreamy and beautiful Adriana (Marion Cotillard), who is everything Inez is not. The substance and soul of Midnight in Paris that lends heft and heart to its over-arching frothiness is Allen’s examination of wistful nostalgia as a seductive mirage that promises a past more romantic, creatively fulfilling, and aesthetically appealing than the present. It definitely makes it a past worth pining for.
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Paris, Je T'Aime »
Official Site: www.sonyclassics.com/midnightinparis
Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Cast: Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Michael Sheen, Owen Wilson, Kathy Bates, Alison Pill, Adrien Brody, Tom Hiddleston, Léa Seydoux and Kurt Fuller
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