While on a trip to Paris with his fiancée's family, a nostalgic screenwriter finds himself mysteriously going back to the 1920s every day at midnight.While on a trip to Paris with his fiancée's family, a nostalgic screenwriter finds himself mysteriously going back to the 1920s every day at midnight.While on a trip to Paris with his fiancée's family, a nostalgic screenwriter finds himself mysteriously going back to the 1920s every day at midnight.
Welcome to the world of Woody Allen as he has always loved it: nostalgic, romantic, imperfect, and full of hope. Midnight in Paris is one of his finest treatises on the lure and delusions of the past: Like Zelig it depicts other times, like Purple Rose of Cairo it uses magic realism to deal squarely with the present. Allen has another of his surrogates, this time Gil (Owen Wilson),who virtually experiences the past (the twenties) while dealing with the troublesome present.
Gil, engaged to marry Inez (Rachel McAdams), is with her and her parents on business in Paris where he hopes to work on his novel while he is still a successful Hollywood writer. Although she is a materialist who would like him to become wealthy to enjoy the life his parents are used to, he dreams of escaping the hack work of LA and living in the City of Lights for inspiration, just as his idols Fitzgerald and Hemingway did in the roaring twenties.
Well, the twenties roar back to him as he experiences their friendship and the mentoring of Gertrude Stein, among just a few of the many expatriate luminaries he meets through the magic of nostalgia. Just one of the Allen signature touches that make him the equal of great European directors such as Rohmer and Godard is opening the film with music that reflects the allure of the twenties, the romance of Paris, and his abiding love for this city: "Si Tu Vois Ma Mere" by Sidney Bechet combines jazz, the clarinet, the twenties, and Allen with a romantic nostalgia.
Owen Wilson catches the halting diffidence of the typical Allen persona without slavishly imitating him. Yet whatever little duplication Wilson employs endears as he sweetly visits his heroes, falls in love, and comes to terms with his writer's voice and his mismatched engagement. But that engagement is the troublesome present; the past offers the chance to experience history on a human level that only someone who writes for now and reveres the past can do.
The magic and the realism, both requiring hard work from the protagonist, lead to surprising understanding of human nature, the delusion of nostalgia and Paris, and hope for a present that brings love and inspiration.
"For all we know, Paris might be the hottest place in the universe." (Gil)
It's been at least a decade since I have enjoyed an Allen movie this much.
- Jun 3, 2011