I’m not (book) smart enough to fully appreciate Midnight in Paris, but I would certainly encourage fans of the literary and art world of the 1920s to check it out. The movie presents an interesting, somewhat whimsical Woody Allen-ified twist on the time travel genre.

The movie opens with a long, loooooong jazzy montage of modern-day Paris as the city of lights transitions from morning to night, sunshine to rain. It could almost be the opening to a travel show that’s about to highlight all the city has to offer – the architecture! the food! the wine! the outdoor cafes! the romance! Oui, oui. C’est Magnifique.

When the music montage finally draws to a close, we are introduced to an American in Paris- several of them actually. Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams play Gil and Inez, an engaged couple who’ve tagged along with her parents on a business trip to the French capital. Gil, a writer (or aspiring writer, depending on how you look at it), is immediately smitten with the city and the role it played in inspiring some of the greatest artists, writers and musicians of the 20th century. Ah, wouldn’t it be great to be transported back in time…

And that’s exactly what happens. Every night as the clock strikes midnight, Gil hitches a ride into the 1920s, where he mingles with the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Salvador Dali, Cole Porter, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and Pablo Picasso. The more you know about them going in, the more you’re going to get out of the film.

Woody Allen knows how to attract good actors, so the performances are all pretty solid and witty. Even Owen Wilson, who tends to be hit or miss for me, is sufficiently endearing as a guy who romanticizes the past but comes to appreciate what the present and future may offer as well.

Midnight in Paris is a decent film with limited appeal for the masses. Ironically, it will likely find its niche with the intellectual and pseudo-intellectual types that the movie often pokes fun at. C’mon, you know who you are.

3 thoughts on “Midnight in Paris”
  1. I was totally taken with this film. And I don’t think you have to be all that bookish (intellectual or pseudo) to appreciate it. For me Woody Allen is hit or miss and this is one of his hits. It may be set among the famous artists and writers of Paris in the 20s, but it is essentially a light little fable about always thinking that things were better in a previous time and place than in your current life. If you appreciate his period comedies like Purple Rose of Cairo or Zelig, then you’ll probably like it. I loved his depiction of Hemingway and the scene with Salvador Dali, Luis Buñuel and Man Ray is a hoot. And if you love Paris as much as I (and Woody) do, you’ll love Midnight in Paris.

  2. I gave up on Woody Allen movies years ago – too much angst, too much pretension, too many actors trying to be “actors”. So when my boyfriend wanted to see this, I was reluctant. Fortunately my BF has good taste, because I loved this movie. Woody took a simple theme – longing for the idealized past – and executed it brilliantly. The movie was laugh-out-loud funny, and the cinematographer is clearly in love with Paris. In fact, Paris is really the star of this film; the actors are merely secondary. I’m still not convinced that Owen Wilson is a good actor, but the supporting cast was great, especially Kathy Bates who ate up her scenes. The movie was a simple premise done very well, which made me long for the days when movies like this were the norm, not the exception.

  3. In mid-July 2011, Midnight in Paris became Woody Allen’s highest-grossing film of all time in North America with 41M+. Not a blockbuster sum, but respectable enough, and a testament to the film’s (Allen’s 42nd) broader appeal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *