Have you ever thought that you were born in the wrong time? Since I was a child, I found my love for MGM musicals set me apart from my friends. Are we really out of place, or is a sense of nostalgia just a part of our human experience? If you are feeling particularly nostalgic of late, a visit to the movies just may be the thing for you.
In Woody Allen’s new film Midnight in Paris, Gil (Owen Wilson) is in Paris with his girlfriend Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her parents (Mimi Kennedy & Kurt Fuller). As a Hollywood screenwriter, Gil is successful but unfulfilled. He is delighted to walk the same streets that his literary heroes such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Earnest Hemingway did in the 1920’s. Inez and her parents find Gil’s references to the romantic feel of Paris contrary to their own pursuits – which consist mostly of shopping with Gil’s money. So completely opposite of each other in personality it’s difficult to see how Gil and Inez became a couple in the first place. But in Paris they are, and when friend’s show up unexpectedly it’s just about too much for Gil to handle.
When Gil takes a quiet walk alone during a Paris night he finds himself transported to the 1920’s and among the artist’s community of the time. As he parties with his heroes Hemingway and Fitzgerald, Gil feels welcomed to this new world and gains enough trust to offer up his unpublished book for criticism from none other than Gertrude Stein. Each night, Gil leaves his winey girlfriend and her disapproving parents for the spirited and unconventional party life of his new found friends and a time lost long ago. As a discussion over Picasso’s newest painting develops, Gil meets the painter’s muse, beautiful Adriana (Marion Cotillard).
Entranced my Adriana, Gil falls in love with the mysterious woman and becomes totally engaged in his new world. But when Adriana yearns for a different time of her own, Gil is caught off guard and discovers that his overgrown sense of nostalgia just may be a sign that his current life is the real problem.
Midnight in Paris is a funny, beautiful and mindful film that explores our vision of the past with our desires of the present. It’s been quite a long time since Woody Allen has use a reflection in time as a theme and comparisons can be made between this film and his 1985 hit The Purple Rose of Cairo. Owen Wilson is perfectly cast as the protagonist à la Woody Allen and is well suited for this material. Wilson provides just the right bit of romanticism, wit and wonder to his character’s quandary. Marion Cotillard, is beautiful and mystifying as Adriana and fits perfectly in this projection of 1920’s Paris.
Allen definitely had fun with casting the characters of the past, most notably Corey Stoll as Hemingway. And it isn’t far-fetched to say that as in many of his films, Allen has brought forth characters that he himself would find amusing to meet and party with should time travel ever be possible. If any one thing could be attributed to the success of Midnight in Paris is the overall mood that Allen has perfectly cast over both his present day and his period scenes. Shot on location, Paris rarely fails. Allen takes his time with linear shots around the city at the beginning of the film before even starting the initial credits, giving the moviegoer just the ample amount of time to know – this is Paris.
So, if your credit card is maxed out and a summer adventure is out of the family budget, step into a movie theater and see Midnight in Paris. It will entertain you, inspire you and do what every great movie does – make you feel.