Movie Review: Midnight in Paris
Austin360.com | Austin American-Statesman
No, "Midnight in Paris" does not rank among the best Woody Allen movies.
It lacks the humor of "Annie Hall." It lacks the depth of "Manhattan." But it manages to entertain, mainly as an homage to Paris - a romp through the city's intellectual and artistic history.
Dallas native Owen Wilson plays Gil, a screenwriter who has accompanied his wife-to-be and his prospective in-laws on a trip to Paris. The in-laws pose big problems for Gil, especially since they're tea party Republicans who disdain anything French. They're just visiting Paris for business reasons.
Wilson's Gil, meanwhile, romanticizes Paris as a city that could inspire him to complete a long-gestating novel. His fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams), finds such romanticism ridiculous, and she just wants him to continue his lucrative screenwriting job in Hollywood.
Matters get worse when Gil and Inez run into old acquaintances Paul (Michael Sheen) and Carol (Nina Arianda). Inez apparently had a crush on Paul in college, and now that Paul is lecturing at the Sorbonne, he seems even more attractive.
Never mind that Paul is an insufferable snob who does such things as contradict a highly educated French museum guide (played by Carla Bruni, the French first lady) about Rodin.
Inez overlooks Paul's faults and insists on visiting with her old friend each night. Gil, however, can't bear the pomposity, so he begins to take walks alone around Paris.
At the strike of midnight during one of these walks, a 1920s limousine stops in front of Gil, and the car's occupants beckon him to come to a party. The people in the limo? They're F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston) and his wife, Zelda (Alison Pill).
Gil, of course, is infatuated. He idolizes the Paris of the 1920s and all of its inhabitants, including Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and Salvador Dali. So Gil starts walking the streets of Paris every evening, in search of an alternative universe, while Inez spends most of her time with Paul and Carol.
Throughout his career, Allen has focused on the difficulties of making relationships work. So the growing distance between Gil and Inez comes as no surprise. The only question is how it will play out.
As the writer and director, Allen understands why Gil finds 1920s Paris so enticing. But he seems to be using the character to warn people about wallowing in nostalgia and living in the past.
Allen also might be telling his audience something else: that he has moved on, and that he wishes critics would quit reminding movie audiences that he was once one of the finest filmmakers in America.
Those days are clearly over, so we'll have to take what we can get out of Allen. "Midnight in Paris" will do.