Saturday, December 31, 2011

Midnight in Paris

People, including me, tend to think of Woody Allen movies as being a bit too intellectual, a bit too heavy on the dialogue, light on the action, but a good look at complicated relationships. But if you go back to Annie Hall, it's nearly a perfect film with the right amount of humor, insight into relationships, pithy and humorous dialogue, everything. Midnight in Paris, I'm glad to say, is that kind of delightful film that brings it all together.

A young engaged couple, he a writer and she, well, I'm not sure, travel to Paris with her parents and find that their relationship is crumbling under Parisian scrutiny. As their differences become more and more distinct, Gil (Owen Wilson) wanders off into Paris each night, and each night he finds more than just Parisians enjoying a late supper or a drink. He finds his literary heroes.

Day vs. Night is a huge contrast in Midnight in Paris. During the daytime, we get to spend exhaustive, boring hours with bad American tourists. While at night, we join Gil as he exchanges repartee with Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway and so many other brilliant artists of the twenties. And the distinction could absolutely drive you to give up on our day-to-day trivialities and swing for the fences. Or give up being American all together.

I thought it was curious that Allen used a Brit (Michael Sheen) to portray a know-it-all American, who meets the family by happenstance in Paris. Sheen, as always, does a fine job.

I did not for a second believe Owen Wilson to be a budding author, having been successful at writing Hollywood scripts before this moment, but Wilson is affable enough for us to think that's he's in a mismatch of a relationship, that we're on his side, and that we're hoping for better relationships for the lad.

Aside from nitpicks, the casting is superb. Rachel McAdams strikes a perfect note as Gil's beautiful fiancee but all together too interested in touristy applications. All of the characters we meet when Gil goes back in time are wonderfully cast, particularly our Hemingway, played by Corey Stoll. He carried off the manly yet sensitive Hemingway we think of when we hear about Papa. But we'd love to spend time with every single character we meet in these Parisian back alleyways.

Each moment Gil spends with those bygone artists is enchanting. You wonder who else he might have met if he had continued to meet the carriage at midnight each night? Whom would you like to encounter?

Thumb's up.


At 1:57 PM, Blogger Sheryl said...

I really loved Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein. But I didn't find Owen Wilson convincing at all. I also thought the ending revelation was rather weak - I don't know why (according to the movie) Owen decided that our time period was best.


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