Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris
Made in: USA, France (location)
Language: English, French
Director: Woody Allen
Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Kurt Fuller, Mimi Kennedy, Michael Sheen, Carla Bruni, Tom Hiddleston, Alison Pill, Kathy Bates, Corey Stoll, Adrien Brody, Marcial Di Fonzo Bo, Gad Elmaleh
Year: 2011

Synopsis: Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) is a successful but unfulfilled Hollywood scriptwriter on vacation in Paris with his fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams). They're touring the city with Inez's cartoonishly conservative parents, John (Kurt Fuller) and Helen (Mimi Kennedy).

Gil is in the process of finishing his first novel, inspired largely by his nostalgia for 1920's Paris. Inez, however, isn't so taken by the city and dismisses Gil's writing adventure with disdain. And worse, he's made to tag along with Paul (Michael Sheen), Inez's college friend who's a pretentious know-it-all.

After getting lost on the streets of Paris, a vintage car picks up Gil...and he is mysteriously transported back to the 1920s. There, to his shock, he meets a variety of historical figures such as Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Allison PIll and Tom Hiddleston), Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), and many other of his writing idols.

He also encounters Adriana (Marion Cotillard), the mistress of Pablo Picasso (Marcial Di Fonzo Bo), whom he is instantly attracted to. Gil's repeated journeys to the past not only inspire his writing, but offer perspective on his own life and troubled relationship with Inez.

The Good: Owen Wilson does a great job expressing the trademark neurosis found in so many of Woody Allen's protagonists. Gil is a very likeable and fun character, and his interactions with a broad range of historical figures are always clever and often hilarious.

Especially memorable are Gil's conversations with Ernest Hemingway, and when he tries in vain to convince surrealists Luis Buñel (Adrien de Van), Salvador Dali (Adrien Brody), and Man Ray (Tom Cordier) that he's from the future.

Midnight in Paris is a tightly written story with a simple yet very well-conceived element of fantasy. Elements of this film may make you think of The Purple Rose of Cairo, as well as Woody Allen's 1977 short story The Kugelmass Episode.

The message is also simple but meaningful, and the jokes are genuinely funny without having to resort to profanity or crass subject matter.

The large cast is a lot of fun to watch as well, and the acclaimed Gad Elmaleh has a small but very comically effective role as a French detective.

The Bad: There are almost too many historical characters, and because not every one can play a significant role, the film does feel a little incomplete.

Who would like this film: Midnight in Paris is for you if you're a Woody Allen fan, and if you're familiar with famous historical literary/artistic figures. The humor is intelligent, the concept is imaginative, and it's a clean, relaxing movie that romanticizes Paris in a more substantive fashion.

(3 stars out of 4)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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