Ever felt like you were living in the wrong time; the wrong decade? I remember feeling that way during my relative youth, where after reading modernest tomes and watching old talkie films I decided I was made for an earlier time than the drab reality of the present. This is the simple premise of Woody Allen’s delightful new film, “Midnight in Paris,” which is a whimsical work of magic-realism that takes the audience on a nostalgic ride through the artisan world of the Paris of the 1920s, only to end up where you started but with a deeper appreciation of the present.
▲ Sony Pictures Classics
The film begins with a montage of clichéd Paris scenes dripping in romanticism setting the film more within the idea of Paris than the city itself. This is the Paris that Gil (Owen Wilson), a Hollywood script writer, sees while on a trip to the famed city with his fiancee (who does not care for the city’s charms) and her rich conservative parents. The effect the city has on him is palpable and he constantly tells his fiancee Inez (Rachel McAdams) about how wonderful it would be to move there so he could pursue the writing of literature, a dream he left on the wayside for the hefty checks of Hollywood. He longs to live in the Paris of his literary heroes, while Inez on the other hand dreams of Malibu.
With this nagging need to write literature, Gil declines to go dancing with Inez and her pseudo intellectual friends and decides to walk the streets, only to become lost in his slightly inebriated state. He is scooped up in a antique cab full of cigarette-smoking, champagne-drinking Parisians and taken to a party where he meets Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Cole Porter and a drunken Ernest Hemingway.
This is the Paris Gil feels he was made for and returns to it on subsequent nights meeting the likes of Salvidor Dali, Man Ray, Gertrude Stein and others and is instantly accepted as one of their ilk. The cast of the film is phenomenal with the likes of Cory Stall, Kathy Bates and Adrien Brody among others playing the roles of the iconic artists. To see this time and these people recreated together in a single cinematic experience is reason enough to watch this film.
The film’s conflict comes to the forefront when Gil falls in love with Picasso’s mistress, who he finds is a kindred spirit, which causes him to reflect upon his own identity and what he truly wants from life.
This premise-driven film is reminiscent of some of Allen’s earlier work like “Bullets Over Broadway,” (1994) and the magical realism of “The Purple Rose of Cairo” (1985). It is completely conscious of the sentimentality it wields creating a light film filled with moments of honesty and humor. While it may not be an Oscar winner, taking the nostalgic ride it offers through an era few were privileged to live, is a good enough reason as any to see this film.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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