The Critics: Midnight in Paris

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Dir. Woody Allen

WARNING: this review contains spoilers. It otherwise would be extremely difficult to review this gem of a film.

Do not be fooled by the somewhat dull and deceptive trailer—Midnight in Paris is pleasantly surprising, undoubtedly charming, and awakens the imagination. The unrevealing nature of the trailer only adds to the mystery surrounding the film, and I have yet to meet someone who has had a bad word to say about Midnight in Paris. When Gil (Owen Wilson) and Inez (Rachel McAdams) take a trip to Paris with her wealthy parents (Kurt Fuller, Mimi Kennedy), it is clear from the get go that they want different things in life. Inez, a materialistic woman, dreams of a comfortable life surrounded by expensive furniture in Malibu. Meanwhile Gil, an aspiring writer, fantasizes about living in Paris in the rain and in the springtime. He writes a novel about a man who owns a nostalgia shop, and parallel plots are drawn between the life he lives and the novel.

As Gil wanders around Paris on a late night stroll, an antique Peugeot pulls up. Upon entering the vehicle, he is swept into the roaring twenties and can’t quite believe his luck when F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston, Alison Pill) introduce themselves. Over the course of the following nights, he meets more of the ‘greats’: Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), T.S. Eliot (David Lowe), Salvador Dali (Adrien Brody), Pablo Picasso (Marcial Di Fonzo Bo), and his beautiful mistress, Adriana (Marion Cotillard).

As the story unfolds, the audience follows Gil as he explores and questions what he wants; the audience is left to question whether Gil’s adventures are dream sequences or reality; one might even call this a much more light-hearted version of Inception. Instead of a dream within a dream, Gil wanders in a time era within a time era. The film is simple, sweet, and sincere, and reminds us of our inner romantic, not to mention the potential fulfillment of wishes and dreams.

In a decade where movies are constantly filled with million dollar explosions, overwhelming product placement and oozing with sex appeal, Midnight in Paris is a refreshing, enjoyable film with a brilliant cast, minimal advertising (only one exception, as far as I could tell), and beautiful cinematography (Darius Khondji). The opening shots of Paris, accompanied with a gorgeous soundtrack, are enough to tempt anyone to hop on the next flight to Paris.

“Paris in the morning is beautiful. Paris in the afternoon is charming. Paris in the evening is enchanting. But Paris after midnight… is magical.”

 

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