“While on a trip to Paris with his fiance’s family, a nostalgic screenwriter finds himself mysteriously going back to the 1920s every day at midnight.”
Directed by: Woody Allen, Rated: PG-13, 94 minutes
Woody Allen is a master film-maker who manages to stay fresh after all of these years. He’s been writing and directing films for almost fifty years, and still is able to produce quality stories after working so long. He’s a man with dozens of “classics” under his belt and while many consider his best to be behind him, 2011′s Midnight in Paris puts all of those thoughts behind us. Allen is back, better than ever, and creates a film so heart-warming, so imaginative, and so honestly funny, you cannot help but love the hell out of it. It’s a story about a man in love with simpler times and the littler things in life and is quite refreshing than the usual kind of movies we see made every year. Midnight in Paris actually was my favorite movie of last year, beating out the likes of a ton of other films, and even deserves its own little spot on my list of all-time favorite films.
Gil (Owen Wilson) is an aspiring writer looking to make it big. He’s continually tweaking a novel about a man who works in a nostalgia shop (where you go to buy old things), and you gradually see that the story is indeed about him. He’s fascinated with the past- the people, the places, and the charm of a simpler time. Without televisions, cellphones, or any other distractions, Gil hopes to find the beauty in a quiet life in a big city. Him and his fiance, Inez (Rachel McAdams), are in Paris together with her over-bearing family. After countless outings and one too many uptight conversations about the spoiled life, Gil decides to take a breather and walk the streets of Paris by himself, hoping to gather inspiration from one of the world’s greatest cities. After stumbling through the streets, a bit drunk, Gil is picked up by an old car and taken away to a party. At first, Gil thinks he’s just at a 20s theme party, with everyone in costume, but soon realizes that he’s actually been transported back in time and is sharing drinks with F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston) , his wife, Zelda (Alison Pill), Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), and many others. Gil, of course, freaks out and is astonished by what he’s come across, and rushes to his hotel room to get his novel to share with such great literary icons. Unfortunately, his departure from the bar transports him back to present time, leaving Gil quite a bit disappointed. Luckily, he figures out that the same car takes him back to the past every night, so as he struggles getting through the days with his boring and bitch fiance and family, Gil eagerly anticipates the clock striking midnight on the streets of Paris.
In almost every one of his films, Woody Allen has a character that embodies the traits and mannerisms of himself. In his earlier work, this role was always played by him, but as the man has grown older (and looks it), he has found a transplant for himself in each film. With Midnight in Paris, Owen Wilson channels his own version of Allen, adding his own charm to the quirkiness and high anxiety Allen is known for. I think he’s one of the best people to play “Allen” in recent memory as he feels much more genuine than the nerdy individuals who have taken on the role previously. He’s charismatic without reeking of charm, funny enough without feeling forced, and really feels like an old soul finally finding his place in the world. He’s the perfect hero- flawed, but completely human, and is the exact type of person you can stand behind. Luckily, Midnight in Paris has more than just an incredible lead. Throughout his time-traveling, Gil runs into some of history’s greatest thinkers, writers, and artists. Each of these people are brought to life by great performances, with the incredible Corey Stoll playing Ernest Hemingway. He’s not in the film for that long, but every single one of his scenes he knocks out of the park and you can’t help but wonder if you’re watching the man himself make an appearance in the film. We also are given the pleasure of seeing Adrien Brody playing Salvador Dali and Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein.
Midnight in Paris is a beautiful film that shines in its simplicity. It’s never preachy, political, or over-bearing (except in Gil’s fiance and family) and tells a story that’s a lot smarter than you first assume it to be. It’s something you can never quite expect and the story that unfolds only leaves you feeling good. It taps into a creative and imaginative part your mind that you inspires you to pick up a pen or brush and create something. In a world today where we are constantly connected to the internet and each other, it’s sometimes hard to take a step out of it all and notice the beauty around us. Midnight in Paris is the antidote to the monotonous routine of our everyday lives and reminds us of a past we need to reconnect with. Gil’s heroes are the writers and artists he meets on his adventures and helps us remember a time when such people were legends and worth the attention and adoration they received. Today, we’re overwhelmed with new celebrities every fifteen minutes (more than half of which are undeserving of such status) and forget about the people who broke the mold, creatively and intellectually, before it was “cool” to do so. Midnight Paris is the perfect little inspiration for a new kind of renaissance and is heart-warming enough to make the transition worthwhile. Time-traveling has never been so important.
an overall easy-going, simple mood the film elicits and the big ol’ smile it leaves on your face
incredible performances from the entire cast, with standout recognition needed to be given to both Owen Wilson and Corey Stoll
the simple reminder of a time that was and the genuine emotion, creativity, and inspiration that was
What literary legend or artistic icon would you love to go back in time and have a drink with?