Woody Allen won Best Original Screenplay at the 2012 Academy Awards for the wonderful film Midnight in Paris. The film begins with a very leisurely stroll through the charming streets of Paris, past monuments and recognizable landmarks, before zooming in on our main characters, Americans visiting the city of love.
Gil (Owen Wilson) is a successful screenwriter engaged to Inez (Rachel McAdams), and they are staying in Paris along with Inez’s parents. Gil aspires to be a novelist, his heroes being the writers who lived and wrote in Paris in the 1920’s. Gil is awash in his love for Paris and wants to move there, but Inez will have none of that.
Unexpectedly, friends of Inez are also in the city, and they accompany Gil and Inez on a trip to Rodin’s museum. Paul (Michael Sheen) is a pedantic know-it-all, and Gil is not fond of his company. One evening, Gil goes for a stroll by himself and this is where the magic happens.
He is transported to 1920’s Paris in a classic Peugeot at the stroke of midnight. All the best intellectuals, artists and musicians are in attendance at a party: the Fitzgerald’s, Hemingway, Cole Porter. He is of course enchanted, and is introduced to Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), who agrees to read his novel.
Adriana (Marion Cotillard) is a beautiful free spirit who associates with all the freest painters of the day, including Picasso. Gil is inexplicably drawn to her, and the fun never stops. I love the way we meet famous people as he explores this alternate universe each night.
Allen asks the question in this film of which era would be the best to live in: the ‘20s, the 1890’s, the Renaissance? Each generation longs for the mystique of the one preceding it. It all makes for a very good story, lots of creative sets and costumes, and the great dialogue that Woody is known for.
I like Woody’s films, but Midnight in Paris is my all time favorite. Besides his screenplay winning at the Oscars, he also won Best Original Screenplay at the Golden Globes that year. I remember the camera focusing in on Owen Wilson when it was announced Woody had won. Woody was of course not in attendance. Owen was looking quite pleased at the film’s being honored. He does a great acting job, and without him, the story just wouldn’t have been the same. Marion Cotillard is perfect as a sort of femme fatale that Gil falls for. And the city of Paris is shown off to great advantage in virtually every scene.
I’ve been to Paris and was impressed. I think even if you’ve only seen Paris in pictures, this film will enchant you. The story is inventive, meticulously staged on camera, and the comedy between the characters helps alleviate some of the serious questioning that Gil does about his life. It is rated PG-13 for some sexual references and smoking.
Put this high on your list of must see films.