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Review: Midnight in Paris

Jun. 13, 2011by: Chris Bumbray
100%

PLOT: A jaded Hollywood screenwriter (Owen Wilson), on vacation with his fiance (Rachel McAdams) in Paris, discovers a way to travel back to Paris in the twenties, where he can spend time with his literary heroes, like Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and have his work analyzed by Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates). However, things get complicated once he falls in love with a twenties beauty (Marion Cotillard), who herself, yearns for another Parisian Golden Age: La Belle poque.

REVIEW: Ever since Woody Allen decided to start filming overseas, his creative juices seem to be flowing again. While he's had the occasional misfire (SCOOP, YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER), MIDNIGHT IN PARIS ranks alongside some of his finest recent work- and looks to be another crowd-pleasing hit along the lines of VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA.


Being in his seventies, Allen has wisely given up playing the leading man in his films, instead casting a slew of surrogates, each of whom usually adapt the Allen-esque persona. In WHATEVER WORKS, it was Larry David (less ideal than you'd think), and in MELINDA AND MELINDA it was Will Ferrell. Here, it's Owen Wilson, and amazingly, he fits the part like a glove, being better here than he's been in years, aside from his work with Wes Anderson.

Wilson is effortlessly good here as the prototypical Woody Allen hero (i.e- a neurotic writer, with an improbably gorgeous lover), although his character gets to be a little more romantic, and more confident that the usual Allen protagonist. The early parts of the film, involving his sour relationship with his mismatched fiance are probably the weakest part; not due to any problems with the cast (indeed, McAdams has never looked more beautiful), but rather because it feels a bit too typically Woody. However, once Wilson ends up back in the twenties, the film catches on like gangbusters, with the twenties setting seeming to get Woody's imagination going, resulting in a film that feels like a bit of a throwback to THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO, and his freshest work in years.


It helps if you know your Lost Generation writers a bit, as Woody obviously does. He has a lot of fun playing with Ernest Hemingway's machismo (LAW & ORDER: LA's Corey Stoll is great), and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tim Hiddleston) relationship with his daffy wife Zelda (a nearly unrecognizable Allison Pill). Adrien Brody has a particularly funny bit as a Rhinoceros- obsessed Salvadore Dali, who pals around with Luis Brunel and Man Ray- none who whom, being surrealists, see anything odd about Wilson's time traveling predicament.

However, the heart of the film is Wilson's romance with Cotillard's character, although don't let my plot description fool you into thinking this is some kind of SOMEWHERE IN TIME knockoff. The idea of lovers separated by time offers a chance for the film to get maudlin, but the affair comes to a rather unique conclusion, that really says something unique about how nostalgia for the past can blind us to the future, and is the most profound Woody's felt in a while.


While it's still not quite golden-age Woody (ANNIE HALL and MANHATTAN will probably never be topped), nor does it quite measure up to some of his later, darker films (like the great MATCH POINT, and the underrated CASSANDRA'S DREAM), MIDNIGHT IN PARIS is still an excellent Woody Allen film, and evidence that despite his advancing age, Allen's still in his prime. Even if you're not normally a Woody Allen fan, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS is highly recommended, and a nice change of pace from some of the heavier, action heavy films out there. At the very least, it'll make you want to hop on the next flight to Paris.

Extra Tidbit: Woody's funniest film is still EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX (BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK)
Source: JoBlo.com

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9:14PM on 06/22/2011

Great Review But

I gotta disagree with you on the extra tidbit. Everyone I've talked to who is aware of Woody Allen films loves Everyhing You've Ever Wanted...but I just don't like it. It's a little too all over the place. It's interesting but I never warmed to it as much as I have other vintage Allen flicks.

Great review, though. I agree completely.
I gotta disagree with you on the extra tidbit. Everyone I've talked to who is aware of Woody Allen films loves Everyhing You've Ever Wanted...but I just don't like it. It's a little too all over the place. It's interesting but I never warmed to it as much as I have other vintage Allen flicks.

Great review, though. I agree completely.
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+2
9:07PM on 06/15/2011
One of the best films I've seen this year. Here's the full review:

[link]
One of the best films I've seen this year. Here's the full review:

[link]
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+3
3:37PM on 06/13/2011
I saw this in Boston on limited release, and thought it was brilliant. It isn't hilarious, but it doesn't need to be with Allen's charm and wit. I thought Wilson did a great job with the neuroses of a typical Allen front man, and the rest of the cast support his performance. As a concept, it's a love story about a man in love with an abstract, rather than an actually being. It felt much more real, despite being entirely surreal. Loved it!
I saw this in Boston on limited release, and thought it was brilliant. It isn't hilarious, but it doesn't need to be with Allen's charm and wit. I thought Wilson did a great job with the neuroses of a typical Allen front man, and the rest of the cast support his performance. As a concept, it's a love story about a man in love with an abstract, rather than an actually being. It felt much more real, despite being entirely surreal. Loved it!
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+4
11:18AM on 06/13/2011
I currently live in Paris and I've seen it twice now. The greatest love story of the movie is between Wilson and Paris and it's obvious that Woody loves this city. The opening montage is beautiful.

I think if you've spent some time in Paris and are feeling nostalgic for it then this is a sure thing. I'm really glad the movie is getting good reviews and that joblo.com is giving it support because it's a really sweet and fantastic movie that I hope lots of people will see.
I currently live in Paris and I've seen it twice now. The greatest love story of the movie is between Wilson and Paris and it's obvious that Woody loves this city. The opening montage is beautiful.

I think if you've spent some time in Paris and are feeling nostalgic for it then this is a sure thing. I'm really glad the movie is getting good reviews and that joblo.com is giving it support because it's a really sweet and fantastic movie that I hope lots of people will see.
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10:18AM on 06/13/2011

Very good review

I was a little less favorable toward this one for what I still think are fair reasons, but you reminded me of what there was to appreciate about it while at once expressing awareness of those faults. And it was short! Bravo!
I was a little less favorable toward this one for what I still think are fair reasons, but you reminded me of what there was to appreciate about it while at once expressing awareness of those faults. And it was short! Bravo!
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9:14PM on 06/22/2011
What are your reasons for being less favorable? Just curious.
What are your reasons for being less favorable? Just curious.
8:02AM on 06/13/2011
Really dug this flick. Not many laugh-out-loud moments, but it was really cute. Almost like a live action fairy tale.
Really dug this flick. Not many laugh-out-loud moments, but it was really cute. Almost like a live action fairy tale.
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