Midnight in Paris (2011)
Bonjour, mesdemoiselles et messieurs! It seems you’ve stumbled upon my review of Woody Allen’s poetic work of art, Midnight in Paris. Why wait until now to bring Paris out of the woodworks? Not since last month, when I witnessed Hugo, have I seen such an alluring portrait of “la ville de l’amour.” This charming tale of whimsical lust in that “city of love” focuses on Gil, a novice novelist, and Inez (Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams, Wedding Crashers), his fiancé, who tag along on a business trip to Paris. Gil is instantly struck by the graceful beauty of the city, but Inez is less enthused. Gil makes clear his desire to live in Paris during its “golden era” of the 1920s, and for a few nights, he does. He hits it off with Adriana (a wonderful Marion Cotillard), putting him at odds with his fiance, and hangs out with Hemingway, Picasso, and other familiar names (I won’t spoil the fun).
Woody Allen writes an ode to the city in his beautiful, complex and artful script. At times it can be slow and rely on the wonderful French score (beautifully utilized in the opening sequence), but it seldom loses its focus. Magnifique! In this “romantic comedy,” look for more genuine romance and less riotous comedy. That’s just how Woody wants it. He rightfully won the Critic’s Choice for Best Original Screenplay just a few days ago, but until now I could only have guessed why. His talent is indisputable, and Midnight in Paris flaunts it.
With Woody Allen writing and directing, acting can be overlooked. With such beautiful views of the city, who needs acting anyway? Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams are short of perfect, but they never spoil the fun. For both, tack it up as their most respectable, if not their best, films to date. Not either’s funniest, but greatest. It’s difficult to describe the acting, really—I only looked at the characters when my eyes weren’t drawn to the beautiful landscapes and gorgeous architecture! Adrien Brody is hilarious in five minutes of screen time, but it’s Alison Pill who caught my attention as the fun, carefree, hysterical Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of the famed Great Gatsby author F. Scott.
What have I said about the potential of Sony Pictures Classics? They did it again! Moon, Get Low, The Last Station, and now Midnight in Paris…they pop out brilliantly scripted, intricately sculpted movies like it’s their job. Midnight in Paris has got to be just behind The Adventures of Tintin in my list of 2011’s best films, a testament to both the wonder and magic of Paris and the lasting power of two of Hollywood’s most iconic directors.