Midnight in Paris stars Owen Wilson as Gil, an American writer who falls in love with Paris. He relishes the atmosphere and has a special affinity for the art and lifestyle of a bygone era. As a Screenplay writer, Gil is successful but unfulfilled. He wants to move to Paris and write a novel instead. This idea does not sit well with his fiance Inez (Rachel McAdams) or her parents, none of which he seems to get along with very well. Having little interest in his wife’s activities he begins to explore Paris and follow a journey of his own.
Owen Wilson is a different type of leading man for a Woody Allen film, still neurotic and searching, but more smoothed out and easy-going as a result of what Wilson brings to the role. Wilson tones down his movie star personality, getting rid of the bad, but keeping the good and the result is a very likeable and relatable character. Allen’s first choice for the role, David Krumholtz, would have been more along the lines as his previous films. It seems fitting that with Woody Allen already experiencing an artistic renaissance since shooting abroad, Wilson brings something new and different to the mix.
In structure, this film is very much like another one of Woody Allen’s best movies, Match Point. There is some discussion early on about a concept or theme, much like a hypothesis. It is laid out with some very good dialogue and the topic resonates with the viewer. The film’s mission from that point on is to demonstrate the aforementioned theme and put the hypothesis to the test, acting it out, evaluating the ramifications, and finally coming to a conclusion based on the experiences and life lessons learned by the lead character. Movies are about telling stories and this is a brilliant technique.
The theme here is how people romanticize the past, but feel that they are suffering in the present. This is a film about love, death, and how people choose to live their lives. This movie is part romance, part comedy, and part drama. While light and comedic in tone, this film is philiosophical and profound in many ways, but at the same time down to earth, sweet and funny. Other movies tackling this type of subject matter tend to get very pretentious. It is a testament to Woody Allens wit, humor, and humble style that he is able to get such important ideas across in such a light-hearted, yet thought-provoking way.
If this movie has a flaw, it’s the relationship Gil has with his fiance, which is ice cold to say the least. You never think for a second that these two people should be together and you can’t understand thy he wants to marry her at all. And her parents are just laughably crass, stuck up and overbearing. Maybe Allen intended on the parents to be cartoonishy silly, but there is no excuse for the lack of any credible relationship between Wilson and McAdams.
In addition to the great story, acting, pacing and tone of Midnight In Paris, the Cinematography is beautifiul as well. Great shots of Paris throughout as well as an opening montage that is a beautiful visual portrait of Paris a la Manhattan. Plus the flow of the camera always indicates that it is well thought out and is leading you to something and has more meaning than just simply showing you what is going on. Not only is Midnight In Paris one of Woody Allen’s most insightful comedies, it is one of the best movies of the year.
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