3 Jan 2012

Midnight in Paris

My young lady has put up with a lot in the last couple of years (not just me, but I am a handful). But despite everything life has thrown at her, she has born all that adversity with tremendous grace and dignity, and I admire her resolve, her professionalism and her tenacious and optimistic grip on life immensely.

So when she asked me to take her to a Woody Allen movie, I agreed without hesitation.
Those who follow this blog know that I abhor Mr. Allen's movies. I think it was  A Midsummers Nights Sex Comedy  was the first film I watched, and I hated it.  See my review of  Antz if you like, and he just acted in that.

I do not like Mr. Allen, I do not like that man.
I would not watch him with raspberry slice and jam,
I do not like that man!

But I do like my lady. And she loves literature, and Paris. So when she read about Midnight in Paris she really wanted to go and see it.
I fortified my self for the Woody Allen experience

Here is a synopsis:
Gil, a highly successful screenplay writer (Owen Wilson) and his fiance Inez  (Rachel McAdams) have been shouted a trip to Paris by  Inez's highly republican parents (Kurt Fuller, and Mimi Kennedy). Gil loves Paris. He is particularly interested in the Paris of the 1920's, when artists like Salvador Dali, Cole Porter and Hemingway all converged together and worked in the same circles.
Unfortunately Inez does not share Gil's fascination for the Paris, the old or the new. She prefers the company of her old college friend Paul, a pedantic intellectual who delights in correcting local tour guides. She also does not like the idea that Gil is considering moving to Paris to help him over come the issues he has with his first novel. Inez wants to move to Malibu and for Gil to continue writing highly profitable screen plays.
Despite being in his favourite city, Gil is down cast by the; lack of support from Inez, the intrusion of Paul, and Inez's parents dogmatic support of the tea party and their focus for money. Until one night as he gets lost walking back to his hotel alone at midnight he is magically transported to Paris of the Twenties and into the circles of artists he admires so much. Gil finds that he can travel back in time night after night to Paris and the Twenties, and he does so. Ensue various literary us Hijinx.

The first thing that struck me about this film was the opening which was a montage of different shots of Paris. From the beginning you can see that Mr. Allen has a love for the city. This is reflected not just in the story, but the way he has shot the city, with a mixture of the traditional, almost cliched image of Paris and the back street markets and cafes that exist for Parisians.

As I was introduced to the characters I could see Owen Wilson channelling the acting style of Woody Allen. And while I was enjoying the imagery of Paris, and had some sympathy for the character as a writer struggling against social pressures, his characterisation was leaving me cold. He seemed introverted and slightly uncompromising in his views. And in some ways as pedantic as his fiances irritating friend Paul (Michael Sheen). But when he meets Hemingway I was instantly drawn into the story. The portrayal of these artists is magnificent; Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein, Adrian Brody as Salvador Dali, and my favourite Corey Stoll as Hemingway. Wilson becomes a straight man for these actors to portray these great figures from artistic history for us. I also commend Kurt Fuller, and Mimi Kennedy's performance as the advocates for the Tea party.

As is the case in much of Mr. Allen's work  Midnight in Paris  is a story of self discovery and change. And unlike other movies that he has written, it is more accessible and less whiny. Also gratefully there is not a hint of sexual dysfunction.

Yes I admit it I liked a Woody Allen movie. It was a fun, clever and light hearted film with genuine laugh out loud moments. If you are like me and do not enjoy Mr. Allen's work, you may enjoy this, even if you do not have a love of art.
Seven and a half monkeys from me


  1. Woody Allen's did a film in 1991 titled Shadows and Fog. It's been a while since I saw it, but I remember enjoying it. It's black and white and there is a creepy circus and a murder on the loose. The film stars Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, John Malkovich, John Cusack, and Madonna (among many).

  2. I've never been partial to a Woody Allen film myself, but this sounds very good. Your review makes me want to go see it. :)