Midnight in Paris (2011)

Greg Says: Light romantic comedy as told by the master

Title: Midnight in Paris (2011)
Rating: 7/10
Date: 3 July 2011
Recommendation: Wait for the Instant Download
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“Midnight in Paris” finds Gil (Owen Wilson), a successful screenwriter and script doctor, on vacation in Paris with his fiancé Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her parents (Kurt Fuller, Mimi Kennedy). Gil is taken with the city and contemplates living there and finishing his novel. (He imagines that he was born in the wrong time and should have been in Paris when the great writers lived and worked there.) Opposed to Paris, his fiancé wants to live in Malibu while Gil works in Hollywood. Gil likes to take long walks in Paris. During one of his walks he is picked up by an antique motor car that whisks him back to the 1920’s where he meets his idols and a fetching young woman, Adriana (Marion Cotillard).

This is a Nice Little Picture. Owen Wilson is basically playing Woody Allen, talking out loud what goes on in Allen’s head, I presume. The jokes are mild (fair and balanced jabs at Republicans and retorts about Democrats). The characters are cartoonish, even stereotypical. And it is all very charming. Gil meets F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda (the adorable Alison Pill), Picasso, Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), Ernest Hemmingway, and many other colorful characters. They all give Gil advice on what it is to be an artist.

About the only thing I actually hated was Allen’s explanation of the point of the film. We get a close up of Gil’s face as he reasons it all out for us. I think most people who watch this film will be able to do the reckoning that is necessary to appreciate the message. My good friend Martin Bennett taught me the phrase “on the nose” – which is used when a writer has a character express their emotions for the audience. I hesitate (twice) to judge Woody Allen (who puts out a film about once a year), but I really think he should have let us take the message home ourselves, rather than dishing it out in stark terms.

I liked this film, and I recommend it as a home viewing because it is classic Woody Allen. He plays here with time travel and gives no explanation of how it works – it is just the magic of Paris. And that is fine with me, and I think it will be fine with you as well.