MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, 2011
Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Michael Sheen, Nina Arianda, Mimi Kennedy, Kurt Fuller, Carla Bruni, Alison Pill, Marion Cotillard, Adrien Brody
Gil and Inez travel to Paris as a tag-along vacation on her parents' business trip. Gil is a struggling writer and falls in love with the city and thinks they should move there after they get married, but Inez does not share his romantic notions of the city or the idea that the 1920s was the golden age. When Inez goes off dancing with her friends, Gil takes a walk at midnight and discovers what could be the ultimate source of inspiration for writing. Gil's daily walks at midnight in Paris could take him closer to the heart of the city but further from the woman he's about to marry.
There's something magical about Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, a deliciously fun and joyful experience that every aspiring or accomplished writer should see. What if you could get your work reviewed by the greatest literary geniuses in history by traveling back in time when they were in their prime? It's a concept the infamous filmmaker was born to write and one we were born to watch and enjoy.
This swift little film establishes everything it has to for you to understand the world, yet it doesn't waste time in boring you how it actually works. Basically, a struggling writer named Gil (Owen Wilson) is vacationing in Paris with his fiance Inez (Rachel McAdams) and he is looking for something a little more than just a romantic getaway. He falls in love with city and believes that they should move there after their wedding. Inez does not feel the same way about this. In fact, she seems oddly detached from romanticism in Paris, which many consider to be the most romantic city in the world. So when Inez goes off dancing with her friends, Gil decides to roam the streets at midnight.
Upon his adventure, a 1920's automobile pulls up in front of him and the passengers inside it tell Gil to join them. Reluctant at first but curious moments later, he agrees. Thus, he ventures back to the 1920's and discovers the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway young and very much alive. At this point, Gil's creative inspirations are having an orgasm. However, the deeper he falls in love with this fantasy, the more distant he is from Inez. Gil begins to realize that he cannot have both and will eventually have to choose between reality and fantasy.
But the brilliant question Midnight in Paris asks itself (and the audience) is, why can't fantasy become reality? When and where does magic end and realism begin? A character like Gil is already living in a fantasy. He is in Paris vacationing with his beautiful fiance, and while he may be a struggling writer, they seem to have plenty of money (mostly thanks to Inez's parents). Yet this real fantasy isn't enough after Gil experiences an era that he was only able to dream of until now.
That the film itself is already a fantasy, Allen doesn't waste time showing you how Gil goes back in time, he just does. It's the ultimate proper way of suspending disbelief. There's more magic in believing that an antique vehicle can simply pick you up and drive you to when it was brand new. It made me wonder if this journey was specifically meant for Gil and that everyone can bring their own fantasy to life if they dream about it long enough. One of mine would probably consist of having Led Zeppelin's tour bus pick me up and take me back to the birth of rock-and-roll. Or maybe the Hollywood studio tour bus that Steven Spielberg jumped out of when he snuck his way into the industry and became who he is today. Or maybe...oh forget it, the list is endless.
Woody Allen's hugely entertaining screenplay has a magic journey of self-discovery, one that urges a message of comfort. While everyone may dream of living in another golden era, no matter where you are, who you are, and what you want to be, your life itself is the golden era. Midnight in Paris is a wonderful comedy and the most pleasant experience I've had at the movies so far this year.
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