For a while now Midnight in Paris has been on my radar. I didn’t know what it was about but I knew Owen Wilson, Tom Hiddleston, and the girl who played Kim in Scott Pilgrim (Alison Pill) were in it which was enough to pique my interest in the film. After browsing Woody Allen’s IMDB page I soon discover he was the director behind the film, a detail which somehow eluded my attention, and upon this discovery Midnight in Paris quickly jumped to the top of my queue. I am usually pretty bad at saying this ahead time but I fortunately remembered this time: SPOILER ALERT.
What it is: Midnight in Paris is essentially a love story with an absolute fantastic twist. It is directed by Woody Allen and features Owen Wilson, Tom Hiddleston who are also accompanied by Adrien Brody, Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams and Kathy Bates to make up this all-star cast. The story follows a nostalgic writer named Gil (Wilson) who is visiting Paris with his fiancé. After a drunken night of wine tasting, Gil finds himself miraculously in middle of the 1920s surrounded by his idols, only to return to present time in the morning. What follows is magical, feel good story about Gil finding himself and figuring out what is truly important in life.
Why I dig it: For a love story to really capture me there has to be something special to it and Midnight in Paris fits that criterion perfectly. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against romance movies but it’s a genre where variety in plots is scarce and for one to really stand out it needs something to really differentiate it from the crowd. The time traveling or flashbacks to the ‘20s provide the movie that differentiating factor. While the way I have been describing it might make it sound rather gimmicky it honestly isn’t and actually serves as a perfect mechanism in enhancing and building on the story. It works as a literary tool as well as an amazing twist in the movie.
Now the time traveling aspect doesn’t serve as a means of altering the past or changing the way the world is but instead is simply an outlet for Gil to experience Paris in what he deemed was the golden age for the city. It lets Gil live in his wildest fantasy. While the fact that he has traveled 80-90 years into the past is pretty fantastic, the best parts of these sojourns are the individuals he runs into. For those Whovians reading this you can understand those exciting moments when the Doctor runs into historical idols every once in a while throughout his travels, such as when he bumps into Van Gogh, Charles Dickens, or Winston Churchill. Midnight in Paris is like a dozen of those encounters packed into one movie. Gil runs into several historically renowned artists and writers during his temporal midnight excursions, all of which are beautifully and perfectly portrayed. In his bouts he runs into Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, Pablo Picasso, Luis Buñuel and my two personal favorites of the bunch were Ernest Hemingway and Salvador Dalí. Hemingway was portrayed perfectly by Corey Stoll and Dali by Adrien Brody. Both actors do an incredible job of capturing the personalities of their respective role and it is unbelievably entertaining watching these names and faces we have come to know and love come to life in front of us and see who they really were like as people. In fact one of my few complaints of the film is that we don’t see more of Brody’s Salvador who only is present for one scene. While the lack of Dalí’s presence throughout the film is no way detrimental to it, it’s just that Adrien’s portrayal is just so delightful and well done! With the appearance of each new historical figure coming to life I found myself inspired by each and everyone to go out and read their books or look upon their photos and paintings.
It’s not only the historical figures that are well done but all of the characters are. Gil’s fiancé, Inez, is blatantly wrong for him. Not only that but Inez and all of her friends and family are so despicable in a such a well constructed manner. They aren’t necessarily terrible or evil villains, but are all just so easy to despise and all so unpleasant. Each of these antagonists are just so well written. It’s easy to make a villain but characters such as these really stand out and are all around just very well designed. Gil is also an incredibly well written character. While on a quick glance Wilson does appear to play the same old charming, witty and goofball character he usually plays but as the movie progresses his character becomes even more strongly developed and we begin to understand and love him even more.
Midnight in Paris is an absolutely fantastic film. It’s a witty, charming, feel good story with a fantastically magical twist which is more than enough to differentiate this already original film. All of the portrayals of historical figures are perfectly done and all of the performances are literally inspiring. This is a perfect film to watch with your significant other because while it is more or less a love story it is in reality so much more than that and is appealing to all demographics. Hands down my favorite Woody Allen movie and that is saying a lot. I recommend this movie to everyone.