Saturday, October 22, 2011

Review - Midnight In Paris

Before getting to this review, here's what I want to say first. I've only watched two films by Woody Allen. I haven't seen any of his masterpieces such as Annie Hall, Hannah and her Sisters, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Bullets over Broadway or Manhattan. So Midnight In Paris is the third film so far I've seen from him. This is written from a newbie's point of view and most of the review would greatly identify and analyse the trademarks of the iconic filmmaker.

Midnight in Paris is a simple film to comprehend in which Gil (Owen Wilson) is a somewhat-failed screenwriter out of Hollywood who travels to Paris, a city he'd dreamed of to make it easier writing his debut novel. But he's only there because his fiance Inez (Rachel McAdams) wants him to meet her parents who immediately sends their disapproval of him (that's what most rich conservative future-in-laws are). Although he shows most of his love to Inez equal to Paris, the problem for him is that she deplores his tastes in art and is more interested in the pseudo intellectual Paul (Michael Sheen). So one evening, Gil walks off alone in the streets of Paris. When the clock strikes at midnight, he travels back into the 1920s where he meets his heroes in literature, F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston) and his wife Zelda (Alison Pill), Salvatore Dali (Adrien Brody), Ernest Hemmingway and so much more. During this trippy fantasy, Gil realizes that his goals are what it seems if he wasn't with Inez as he meets and falls for a beautiful French mistress Adrienna (Marion Cotillard).

As I previously mentioned, I've only watched two films by Woody Allen which are Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Match Point. Both of these films were at best mediocre and wasn't making me ready to be hooked with his work. But after watching Midnight In Paris, I think I'm prepared.

Midnight In Paris is a simplistic, appealing and yet funny film that is not only the good old fashioned Woody Allen movie you know and must love, but it tends to be inspired at so many levels when it comes to cast, concept and visuals.

Wedding Crashers: Part II was on hiatus
Woody's latest film is a love letter to Paris just like how his movies are those sent to his birthplace Manhattan and it's one of two movies that's make these locations look like cheap garbage. The art direction and setting of Paris is gorgeous and the opening sequences filled with stills of the city are beautifully shot added with Woody Allen's love of jazz. The cinematography by Darius Khonji is gorgeous and the visuals just keep you hooked.

Like Super 8, it holds the theme of nostalgia that prominently references many creative geniuses and then turn them into subtle human characters. But unlike Super 8, these references aren't overdone. Midnight in Paris is a conflict between contexts. Gil lives in a world where taste is ignored and it takes fake intelligence to boost your social status. When he travels back in time where modernism is common, he slowly realizes that his relationships are not what it seems. It's also about inspiration and how people dismiss it over what's real.

The casting of Midnight In Paris is exceptionally perfect. Owen Wilson gives the best performance of his entire career and should deserves some recognition for emulating the lovable, clever yet self-deprecating loser persona Woody Allen had held for decades. Wilson holds most of his comedic routine back to being what Allen would've played now and it works because of the snappy farcical dialogue and all of the sardonic screenplay that allows him to diversify more in this movie. Although Rachel McAdams' character felt weak, she goes against type playing the shallow fiance of Gil and totally nails it since it's her character profound to the plot. Tom Hiddleston, Alison Pill, Adrien Brody, with the latter being my favourite figure giving us the biggest laughs, are all having fun as the creative figures of the modernist era and these characters become really fascinating to all of us. And Marion Cotillard is sweet enough to gives us someone to care about as she comes under the radar as one of a few foreign actors to make it big in America.

People who wants to know what's there to love about Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris is a good start. For some followers who love most of his work will love this. In a year filled with sequels, prequels, remakes, reboots, movies with superheroes fighting punching robots and pirates losing their shit this is my favourite film of 2011 so far because it's simple, isn't patronizing and most of all refreshingly awesome.

A- (8.8) 


  1. While I reject the notion that Super 8 nostalgic feelings are over done this is a fine review. Glad you liked it, I'll wait for the DVD. I've followed ya.

  2. Terrific review, I still need to explore Allen's work more. Only seen annie Hall which was great.