Midnight in Paris

Release date: May 27, 2011
Director: Woody Allen
Screenplay by: Woody Allen
Cast: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kurt Fuller, Mimi Kennedy, Michael Sheen, Nina Arianda, Carla Bruni, Yves Heck, Alison Pill, Corey Stoll, Tom Hiddleston, Kathy Bates, Marion Cotillard, Marcial Di Fonzo Bo, Adrien Brody, and Adrien de Van

With over forty years of filmmaking under his belt, Woody Allen continues to bring us films year after year. With his latest picture, Midnight in Paris, it’s no wonder to see how Woody Allen remains relevant today, though he remains madly in love with the past.

At its core, Midnight in Paris is a film about nostalgia: a yearning for the past. Not only does the film bring us to a city with an extremely rich history – in the arts especially – but it also transports us into a world that has that hint of Allen magic: where anything can happen and nothing feels out-of-place, no matter how implausible it really is.

Owen Wilson stars as Gil – a screenwriter who’s working on a novel while traveling with his fiancé (Rachel McAdams) and her family (Kurt Fuller and Mimi Kennedy) in the city of Paris. After meeting some of her pretentious friends (Michael Sheen and Nina Arianda), Gil decides to head off on his own through the streets of Paris at night. At midnight, after the bell tolls, a group of partiers pick him up and sweep him back to Paris in the 1920s.

There he meets a colorful collection of characters and famous figures, with whom he spends every night. Among them are Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston and Alison Pill), Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), as well as many others. He also meets the lovely Adriana (Marion Cotillard) who serves as a muse and lover for many of the artists and writers of the time – Gil being no exception.

Wilson truly shines in this film – and it might just be the best performance he’s ever given.  Where many others have tried and failed, he takes on a role that Woody Allen would have written for himself, but not as Allen would do it. He plays the character like Owen Wilson would play Woody Allen, not as Woody Allen would play himself – and he does a marvelous job. Aside from his performance, an extreme round of applause should be given to this ensemble cast. Not a single character out of place, and every actor and actress – both newcomers and well-trained – truly shows their potential, delivers Allen’s lines expertly, and succeed in getting laughs from the audience.

Allen returns to what makes some of his older films so appealing – fantasy and romance. Not the romantic entanglements between Gil and his fiancé – or between Adriana and him – but a romance between Gil and Paris: the city he loves. Plenty of connections to Allen and the city Manhattan will be drawn from this film, especially with the lovely set of city shots that opens Midnight in Paris, just as he did with shots of Manhattan decades earlier. But many fans of Woody Allen’s previous works will be mostly reminded of his charming fantasy film The Purple Rose of Cairo while watching this one – due to the magical nature of both.

Although the film will mostly appeal to audiences that are well-versed in the art and literature of the past, it is ultimately a movie that can lure anyone in. They call Paris the city of love, and Woody Allen shows us just that – a city that anyone can fall in love with, no matter what decade they’re from.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Juan Barquin

Just yer average twenty-something college student with no time on his hands who ends up watching (and writing) too many movies and shows for his own good.

17 Responses

  1. great review Juan! ugh this movie was too perfect. HEMINGWAY’S FLOPPY HAIR.

  2. Rodrigo says:

    Sounds like it’s a must-watch for me. Glad to hear that Owen Wilson shined.

  3. amy says:

    wow, five stars. Should I raise my expectations? xD

  4. Castor says:

    Juan, really glad you loved this too! Such a charming and laugh out loud funny movie.

  5. Rodrigo says:

    Finally watched this film and it was enjoyable. Now I can say I have seen two Woody Allen-directed films in my life, lol.

    Owen Wilson was impressive, but the word “impressive” is used here compared to the past/usual roles Owen would do on the big screen. So seeing him working on a film like this was totally refreshing and he carried himself very well as the lead character IMO.

    One thing I would have wished to see happen in MiP was that the break-up between Gil and Inez were a bit more aggressive – and I don’t mean things like Gil choking Inez, lol. The guy was crapped on by his fianceé throughout the entire film (in parts, I could understand her view since it’d be insane to believe Gil) and trolled hard by Sheen’s character, so seeing how Gil ended it was a bit flat to me, at least.

    • Juan Barquin says:

      @Rodrigo, you should see some more! You’d probably enjoy Purple Rose of Cairo a lot if you liked this one.

      I know a lot of people have had the same issue with Inez/Gil’s break-up but I thought it was fine. I mean, we knew her interest in him had already been slowly flying off and it’s obvious that his interests were already wavering as well – so it’s fair enough that neither one of them really fought for it at all or got aggressive. Plus, Gil is a pretty passive-aggressive character in general, notable from his tiny passing comments on everything.

      • Rodrigo says:

        @Juan Barquin, Yeah, their break-up not being aggressive makes sense in the way you put it. Still, shouldn’t Gil feel at least a bit pissed since she cheated on him with some asshole guy? In real life, I think most people would. But Gil also loved someone else, so I guess it evens things out.

        • Juan Barquin says:

          @Rodrigo, I guess the fighting just depends on the person in the relationship. I mean, if I were in Gil’s position, I would know that I wouldn’t have a single right to be mad. Yes, she cheated but technically so did he. Plus, you could tell he was just kind of along for the ride at a certain point. Then again, this could just be me defending Woody Allen’s screenplay a ton because I adore it lol

  6. amy says:

    I loved it. xD

    I had issues that Inez family were such a negative bunch of characters, they just seemed… very flat. But I loved the whole nostalgia bit, because…. well, aren’t we all like this? Even the Allen fans that hated MiP in favor of his older stuff – it’s a slight nudge at them. xD

    I loved how subtle the time travel was, done with such an ease that we actually feel a bit like Gil… a little bit lost as to where we are. But then again, I didn’t read your review or watched the trailer, so I had no idea what I was in for.

    Definitely worth multiple watches…

  7. Julyssa says:

    First comment from Seoul! Woot woot!
    Oki, so this movie was so divine. Owen was really cute, I despised Rachel and omfg HEMINGWAY! DALI! I was having a mini meltdown on the plane.

    But the person that stole the show, my dear Marion, *sighs* so divine. The chemistry between her and Owen was sizzling!

    This just made me realize why I love Allen movies. They are so whimsical yet charming. I need to go on a mini Allen marathon!

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