Midnight in Paris
- Owen Wilson as Gil Pender
- Rachel McAdams as Inez
- Marion Cotillard as Adriana
- Michael Sheen as Paul Bates
- Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein
- Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali
- Alison Pill as Zelda Fitzgerald
- Tom Hiddleston as F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway
From the opening minutes of Midnight in Paris, as the camera takes in the sights of the city with a jazz soundtrack, you know you’re in for something magic and nostalgic from Woody Allen. Funny, touching and imaginative, Midnight in Paris is a comical fantasy film of beauty and the link between the past and present and how one longs for a life before their time.
Gil Pender is a hack screenwriter who is desperate to write a novel. He is a wide-eyed and nostalgic guy who travels to Paris with his gorgeous but disagreeable fiancée Inez, with her wealthy parents. Gil is suffering from writer’s block and is in need of inspiration, though Inez dismisses this as a daydream and cares more about herself. After an evening at a wine tasting with Inez’s pedantic friend Paul, Gil goes for a walk through the Parisian streets as it chimes midnight. As this happens, an old car from the 20’s pulls up and the passengers coax Gil into getting in. He does and soon realises he has been transported into his favourite era and along the way he meets such iconic figures as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and Salvador Dali. This re-invigorates Gil’s imagination and he continues to travel back in time every night into the magical and nostalgic world. Through his trips to the past, Gil gains more inspiration, falls for Picasso’s alluring mistress Adriana and begins to realise that his union with Inez is not exactly a match made in heaven.
Prepare to be swept into the glamorous fantasy world conjured up from the pen of the prolific Woody Allen, who imbues the material with humour and a bittersweet longing for the past. His Oscar-winning script and various characters of literacy fame that populate it are funny, assured and highly enjoyable. Woody Allen shows he still has the gift for comedy after so many years in the celluloid spotlight. It is almost impossible not to be captivated by this tale of the tentative link between the past and present. Props should go to the jazz score that sets the right period setting and the dazzling cinematography, that bathes Paris in a golden glow of times gone by. Many beautiful shots abound in the film, but the one I remember the most is Paris in the rain. It just has such a poetic and romantic beauty about it that I can’t describe as I’d need a good few pages to do so. Above all it’s the characters that capture the interest of the viewer as Gil explores the nocturnal haunts of the famous. A played by Owen Wilson, Gil becomes a wide-eyed dreamer escaping his boredom by journeying back to another time. Wilson takes on this role with a charm and imagination, that is in the mould of roles Allen used to play many years ago. Rachel McAdams absolutely nails the role of the stylish but increasingly shallow Inez, who disapproves of Gil’s romantic notions of nostalgia. Fleshing out the supporting cast are a wide array of talented individuals. As Paul, the know-it-all friend of Inez, Michael Sheen injects humour as he tries to be much superior than he really is. Marion Cotillard, who is fast becoming one of my favourite actresses, is ideally cast and radiantly beautiful as the alluring Adriana. She has charming chemistry with Wilson, highlighted more by the fact that both characters wish for a long-lost past. Whilst Gil enjoys the 20’s, Adriana longs for a time before this. This adds a distinct poignancy tp the picture as we watch them fall for each other and discuss their nostalgic longings that somehow remain elusive at times. Also look out for Kathy Bates who is witty and wise as writer Gertrude Stein, Adrien Brody who is a hoot as surrealist Salvador Dali and Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway, whose advise holds special meaning to Gil. And not forgetting the pairing of Alison Pill and Tom Hiddleston who are excellently cast as the Fitzgerald’s.
Touching, warm and funny, Midnight in Paris is a comedy injected with a mischievous fantasy that is guaranteed to at least make you smile. Woody Allen proves he’s still got what it takes to make quality movies with this delightful picture.