Duke & The Movies

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Written by: Sam Fragoso on June 12, 2011

June 12, 2011 | 24 comments | Featured, Old Format

Midnight In Paris

In Midnight In Paris Woody Allen puts aside all the cynicism and social commentary that constantly cloud over his films, and creates a beautiful homage to Paris, life, and love.

Before going onto the plot, I should warn readers that if you haven’t seen the film skip over this next paragraph because describing the central story without revealing spoilers is next to impossible. Allen has created such a delightful fantasy that it would be unfair not to describe and celebrate the twist of imagination.

The movie follows Gil (Owen Wilson) and Inez (Rachel McAdams), who are set to tie the knot within the next few months and are on business vacation, with her parents, in Paris. Gil is a second-rate screenwriter in Hollywood and has decided to write a novel.

While in Paris, they bump into Inez’s old friend Paul (Michael Sheen), an upper-class, snotty, arrogant man who is in Paris with his wife.

Gil is in love. With what is debatable. He dreams of the golden age fo 1920s Paris, walks around the city in the rain, and embraces the nostalgia of what he thinks was a “better-time”. One night, Gil roams farther than usual and when the bell elegantly rings at Midnight, a taxi cab pulls up and transports Gil to his dream era, the 1920s.

Owen Wilson stars in the Woody Allen film, "Midnight In Paris"

It’s here where the film becomes enchanting. Gil meets Earnest Hemingway, Cole Porter, Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Scott Fitzgerald, Luis Bunel, among other iconic artists from the golden age.

To Gill, this is heaven. To the audience, this is heaven. We are delighted to see Gil be so happy – and every step of the way we meet people who we’ve only heard stories of or have, at one time, marveled at their work.

This is a film dedicated to English professors and romantics. What do I know? I’ve read next to none of Hemingway’s or Fitzgerald’s work. But it’s not about what you’ve read, it’s that you know who they are, their existence, and their impact on modern society. Seeing these legendary artists on the screen is delightful.

I can only imagine how much fun Allen had writing this script, which is full of historical anecdotes that connect the underlining love story.

Perhaps the only fault of the film is that any time Gil leaves the ’20s for the present time, the story stumbles. Inez is still infatuated with Paul, and it’s clear that Gil is slowly losing interest in her. Wilson and McAdams are quite simply not believable together. Polar opposites may attract, but they don’t tie the knot. It makes the central problem of the film tedious. Not for a second do you believe Gil would fall for Inez – who’s annoying and unsupportive of Gil.

Gill and Fitzgerald driving to a party.

For the first time, I can honestly say McAdams gives a mediocre performance. With that being said, for the first time one can proudly proclaim Wilson’s performance is magnificent. He is a near carbon-copy of a young Woody Allen – the ramblings, the messed up nose, and the quirkiness that sparks each and every film.

Just last week I had my weekly post labeled “Battle of the Directors”. Here we discussed which filmmaker you preferred Woody Allen or Spike Lee. People chose Allen by a landslide. I was shocked. I know many people can’t stand Allen -  the complaining, the constant chatter of dying etc. But even those who have a hard time tolerating Allen and his ramblings on Bergman and death will still have something to appreciate in Midnight in Paris.

With “Paris,” Allen argues people are always unsatisfied with the time they live in. They think back to another generation and believe it was so much grander in comparison. Allen shows that no matter what era you live in, you never quite understand its value.

Midnight In Paris — which is Allen’s 41st film — reminds us of what we’ve come to love about his work, “Manhattan” and “Hannah and Her Sisters” for example, over the past four decades. And though Midnight In Paris may not resonate as those earlier films did, it’s still an absolute delight — a lovely example of Hemmingway’s movable feast set in the wondrous City of Lights.

Rating: ★★★½

Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris (2011)

Cast: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard

Director: Woody Allen

Writer: Woody Allen

Runtime: 94 minutes

Genre: romance, comedy

Trailer Midnight in Paris


There are 24 comments for this post.

  1. James Ward on June 12, 2011 1:29 pm

    I’m glad you liked the movie. I thought it was a lot of fun as well. And I was shocked at how crowded the screening I attended was. I saw the 1:35 p.m. showing of the film and the auditorium was 3/4 full — which is a shocker for a Woody Allen film in the Fresno market. The last Allen movie I saw had four people at a mid-afternoon Saturday screening.

    What did you think of Marion Cotillard’s performance? I thought she was striking — the prototypical muse. I was also struck by Alison Pill’s performance as Zelda Fitzgerald.

  2. Duke on June 12, 2011 2:50 pm

    I went to the 6:45 on Friday and it was jammed packed.

    Liked both performances – still not entirely sold on Coltillard as a “great” actress.

  3. James Ward on June 12, 2011 3:47 pm

    Have you seen “La Vie En Rose”? She’s a great actress.

  4. Duke on June 12, 2011 6:41 pm

    I’ll have to check it out. Bring it on Wednesday, if you have it.

  5. Mr. Vang on June 13, 2011 7:50 am

    Nice review Sam. Did skip the second paragraph. Will be taking Mrs. Vang to see it tonight & let you know if I agree.

  6. Duke on June 13, 2011 11:43 am

    I hope you enjoy it Mr. Vang!

    Thanks for reading.

  7. Kid In The Front Row on June 13, 2011 3:00 pm

    I love that you love this movie!

  8. Duke on June 13, 2011 3:01 pm

    It’s very good. What did you think of it?

  9. Irina on June 16, 2011 2:57 am

    I don’t really like Woody Allen and I find Owen quite annoying but your 3.5 stars intrigue me.

  10. Duke on June 16, 2011 11:26 am

    Both actor and director are in a different zone here – they step out of their normal routines. This is one you should try to check out.

    Thanks for reading Irina!

  11. Jan Meyers on June 17, 2011 3:40 pm

    I have been debating about whether or not I wanted to see this film…no more debate I will definitely find a place showing it this weekend. I am definitely a Woody Allen fan…some film more than others but never a NO. Thanks for the review. I’ll let you know how I like it.

  12. Duke on June 17, 2011 4:05 pm

    I know you will Grandma.

  13. Mr. Vang on June 21, 2011 7:02 pm

    Movie was good. Though not great. Wife did not like it as much though.

  14. Duke on June 21, 2011 9:44 pm

    What was her problems with the film?

  15. Manikandan on June 29, 2011 10:54 pm

    Hey Sam nice review dude. By the way your blog was so nice. Happy that you enjoyed this flick. Cheers :)

  16. Duke on June 29, 2011 11:42 pm

    Your site is great as well.

  17. Duke and the Movies :: featured :: The Half-Time Report on July 3, 2011 6:46 pm

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  18. Simon on July 25, 2011 5:21 pm

    This is not released in the UK. No release date set. And I am gutted. I’ll tell ya … it makes it difficult not to watch this pirated considering there is no other source to watch it from AND I am reading all this incredibly positive criticism from across the atlantic. Bloody studios need to get their shit together!

  19. Duke on July 26, 2011 12:01 am

    I know what you mean man. The theaters in my local area take forever to get any films of value.

  20. Mr. Dynamite on July 28, 2011 6:43 pm

    I finally saw this film. I thoroughly enjoyed it. After a summer of blockbusters, this was refreshingly good. Owen Wilson was surprisingly solid in a movie that did not call for his usual shtick. However, I would have liked to see that snobby professor get his butt kicked by Hemingway.

  21. Duke on July 29, 2011 2:14 am

    I saw it in theaters again as well.

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