Saturday, 8 October 2011

Midnight in Paris

Year:  2011
Director:  Woody Allen
Screenplay:  Woody Allen
Starring:  Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates, Carla Bruni, Adrien Brody, Michael Sheen
Running Time:  100 minutes
Genre:  Comedy, fantasy, romance, time-travel

Have you ever wished that you could escape from the present day and live in an earlier time?  This is the question dealt with in writer/director Woody Allen's 41st film.  Hollywood screenwriter and aspiring novelist Gil Pender (Wilson) takes a holiday to Paris with his fiancee Inez (McAdams).  Gil falls in love with Paris while Inez is much more resistant to it's charms.  In particular Gil imagines what the city would have been like in the Golden Age of the 1920s.  While Inez is distracted by her friend Paul (Sheen), a pedantic pseudo-intellectual who she idolizes, Gil takes to wandering the city streets at night, until one night, at the stroke of midnight, he is picked up by a vintage car and finds himself whisked back to the Paris of the 1920s.  Soon Gil is spending every night partying with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston and Allison Pill), Gertrude Stein (Bates), Salvador Dali (Brody), Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), Cole Porter (Yves Heck), Luis Bunuel (Adrien de Van) and Pablo Picasso (Marcial Di Fonzo Bo).  He quickly finds himself becoming increasingly disenchanted with both the 21st Century and Inez, especially when he meets the alluring Adriana (Cotillard).  However Adriana herself is in love with the idea of her own Golden Age:  Paris in the 19th century Belle Epoque.

This is Woody Allen's best movie in recent years and probably one of the best movies that he is made.  An engaging and effortlessly charming film, which is genuinely funny and directed with a light touch.  The performances are uniformly brilliant and there is a genuine sense of magic .  Despite a brief, half-hearted discussion of contemporary politics (Inez's father (Kurt Fuller) is a fervent Republican and not a fan of the French) this is timeless.  It both celebrates and critiques the yearning for some nostalgic, long departed Golden Age.  Woody Allen's earlier films are often seen as being love letters to his native New York, and this is an unashamed love letter to Paris and is more affecting and beautiful than any of his earlier New York celebrations.  There is a sense here also of Woody Allen rediscovering the magic of cinema itself.  

Entertaining and funny, this is a perfect romantic movie and will appeal to more than just Woody Allen fans.  This film is going to do wonders for the Parisian tourist industry.

Marion Cotillard and Owen Wilson spend Midnight in Paris 

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