Movie Review: Midnight In Paris (2011)

Posted: April 16, 2012 in Comedy
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Gil  Pender (Owen Wilson) is an American writer vacationing in Paris, who is enchanted by the city, but stultified by the modern age.  He dreams incessantly of life in a simpler time, his fiancé Inez (Rachel McAdams) is not similarly entranced, she seems to prefer her life in the here and now, and wants her fiancé to go back to being a successful screenwriter.  While walking after midnight one night in Paris, he meets F. Scott Fitzgerald, (Tom Hiddleton) his wife Zelda (Allison Pill) and Ernest Hemmingway (Cory Stoll) Hemmingway tells Gil that he should get his manuscript read by Gertrude Stein. (Kathy Bates) In the same night, Gil meets Pablo Picasso (Marcial De Fonzo Bo) and Picasso’s lover Adriana (Marion Courtilard)  Once Gil figures out that he’s not hallucinating, and the larger than life personalities appear only after midnight, Gil goes back again and again, and finds himself getting praise for his book, and falling in love with Adriana.  Inez and her parents think that Gil is losing his mind, and Inez’ father John (Kurt Fuller) has Gil followed by a private investigator.  Does Gil stay in the 1920’s?  Or does he go back to being a successful Hollywood screenwriter?

I did not like this movie.  The premise is gimmicky and amateurish, something I would expect from a young filmmaker. But this is Woody Allen, maker of such movies as Annie Hall and Sleeper, this is a man who knows exactly what he’s doing, which leads me to think that the plot was extremely self-serving.  GIl is obviously Allen, in my mind, this is a role he obviously would have played himself in earlier days. Allen would probably love to believe that a manuscript he wrote would be highly regarded by the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, or Ernest Hemmingway. And I’m sure Allen would think that he would feel right at home in the golden age of writers and painters, whether he actually would is another story.  I also find it interesting that Gil didn’t take his fiancé with him on any of his jaunts back in time, maybe they could have been another F Scott and Zelda, but Allen chose not to go that way.  Sometimes, the gimmick lands with a thud, for example, when Gil is talking about the view of Paris from space, or when he gives a Valium to Zelda.  The ending is a little too neat and predictable for a plot with so many loose ends.  The acting by the leads is sub-par, I’m sick of Owen Wilson, and his California surfer-dude delivery, it seems very much out of place in a character driven piece about contentment.  Rachel McAdams comes off as whiny and immature, the supporting actors are much better, especially Marion Courtillard, the supporting actors actually make this movie somewhat engaging.

Midnight In Paris:  For Whom The Bell Tolls, it tolls for this movie.


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