Midnight in Paris (2011)
By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) -
As Owen Wilson says towards the end of Midnight in Paris, “I’m having an insight now… a minor one.” Wilson is merely a proxy for writer/director Woody Allen, as is almost exclusively the case when he doesn’t star in his own films. The upshot is that Allen himself is telling the audience he realizes he’s not saying something incredibly profound, but try and enjoy yourself anyway (you should).
Wilson is a hack screenwriter trying to transition to novel writing in the city of his idols, Paris. His fiancée (Rachel McAdams) and her parents couldn’t be less supportive and he finds himself wishing he inhabited the Paris of the 1920s… and Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Picasso, and Dali. And then he does.
The film opens with a montage of Paris, rain and shine, that is simply stunning. Allen isn’t known for his cinematography, and one of the things that disappointed me about Vicki Christina Barcelona was how he barely scratched the surface of one of the most beautiful cities on Earth. Well, he certainly corrects that this time around.
Photo by: vichie81
As hard as it is…
I also loved the “Wrinkle in Time” plot device that Allen uses to have his characters skip through history and hobnob with their role models. The actors have a lot of fun with their roles, particularly Adrien Brody as Dali and Corey Stoll as Hemingway. Ditto Allen, who fills the script with shout-outs to his favorite Parisian movies. Also, how often do you see Luis Bunuel jokes?
Chock full of ‘em
A final raised glass to Marion Cotillard (Inception). She does an excellent job keeping the film centered and one thing you can always say about Allen is that he knows how to shoot his leading ladies.
As hard as it is…
I just wish Allen had a bit more faith in his concept. I understand he wanted a contrast for his ‘20s dreamworld, but what he chooses is the same film he always makes. There’s the unsupportive, undercutting partner, the intellectual know-it-all she dallies with, and the almost saintly romantic interest who’s both the opposite of his partner and exactly what he’s looking for. All that’s missing is Allen himself.
That’s right, forgot.
So maybe it’s not Annie Hall, but Allen still shows he’s got plenty of ideas and originality left.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time someone spots a literature/film/art reference
(first to call it out is immune)
Take a Drink: every time McAdams says something snarky
Drink a Shot: every time her mothers says something snarkier