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Movie Reviews

Midnight In Paris

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Reviewed by: Philippe Ostiguy

Released: June 10th  2011

Directed by: Woody Allen

Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachael McAdams, Kathy Bates

Certificate: 12

It is no secret that cinephiles around the world have spent most of the past fifteen years rooting for Woody, now in many ways an underdog. Despite an onslaught of films ranging from frustratingly mediocre to decent, no disappointment was bitter enough to erase the memory of Annie Hall, still America’s greatest romantic comedy, Manhattan or Hannah and Her Sisters. Not even You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger.

Midnight in Paris is, in many ways, a reward to these patient fanatics, and it feels just like a reunion with an old friend. For the first time since the early nineties’ Manhattan Murder Mystery and Bullets Over Broadway, Woody Allen is visibly inspired. While the film may not reach the heights of his best work, that unmistakable Allen twinkle, that longlost, near-magical beauty able to charm both cynics and dreamers, is back.

Here, our old friend treads once more the line between reality and fantasy, making Midnight not unlike a feel-good take on The Purple Rose of Cairo. Struggling writer Gil (Owen Wilson) is, by day, Inez’ (Rachel McAdams) clueless fiancé, futilely searching for happiness, and, by night, an acquaintance of art legends of the twenties such as Hemingway, Picasso and the Fitzgeralds. And Dali, and Buñuel. And a stunning fictitious muse, Adriana (Marion Cotillard), for whom he oh-so-understandably falls. Allen, aided by the City of Light and caricatured artists, gives Midnight an impossibly naïve charm that I imagine to be irresistible to all big-time dreamers willing to give into his fantasy – and what kind of an art lover wouldn’t be?

Here, Owen Wilson quite plainly plays Woody Allen. That well-intentioned, self-deprecating, idealistic overgrown kid we were taught to love in the seventies returns, and he is as loveable as ever. Wilson is on key from start to finish, proving to be a more than capable leading man as he wanders through a colourful supporting cast including cameos by Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody and the impossibly beautiful Carla Bruni. Still, the number one scene-stealer is, as his dream gal, Marion Cotillard. Her performance is light and subtle; her presence, too ethereal to be anything but a dream. With a simple smile, she communicates exultation; with a simpler even look, she becomes the saddest girl in town.

Midnight is not without fault. Gil’s every day life quite strongly recalls the director’s recent outputs, with its odd and unhappy mix-and-match of one-dimensional characters. His fiancé, her friends and her parents are downright insufferable and are not once shown to have any redeeming qualities. Never are the lovebirds happy, and one is left to wonder what Gil is doing by Inez’ side in the first place. These characters’ scenes are short and neither interesting nor well-written (think Vicky in Vicky Cristina Barcelona), serving only as necessary plot devices. Truth be told, it seems evident Woody was far more interested in escaping to his fantasy world. And that is more than okay because, frankly, so was I.

25 year old film fanatic who loves rock music, Xbox and cat videos on Youtube. I also tweet @lewisvstheworld

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