I really like Midnight in Paris. And that’s saying something, because I’ve never considered myself a particular fan of writer/director Woody Allen, or stars Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams.
But I do love Paris. Hmm…
I didn’t know much about the movie going in, and I’m going to attempt to not spoil it for you in my review. But if you haven’t seen it (or heard anything about it), then you might want to stop reading now. I think the film is best if you go into it completely blind. I hadn’t read any reviews of the film prior to seeing it, but I was aware of the general positive buzz.
Somewhere along the way, however, I did figure out that there was going to be some sort of time travel trickery involved. I expected to be annoyed by it, but it was handled in such a charming and infectious way that I just went along for the ride.
Great performances by well-known stars playing well-known literary and artistic greats made the illogical time travel not only bearable, but a delightful confection.
Paris has always struck me as a city enamored of its own past. And it just didn’t seem that far-fatched that early 20th-century luminaries could still be out there carousing the streets of a Roaring 20’s Paris.
At the movie’s heart is Owen Wilson’s slightly befuddled Gil. Wilson turns in an understated, nuanced performance that made me like him as an actor a heck of a lot more than I did before. To be fair, he generally finds himself in roles that call for a bit of over-the-top hijinks, so perhaps I’ve been to harsh a critic in the past. I still don’t like Rachel McAdams, but that works for her here, as her Inez is far from likable. I adore Marion Cotillard and she’s delightful as ever as Adriana, the requisite “manic pixie dream girl” in any film with a confused leading man looking to reexamine his life. She’s lovely and beguiling and I fell a bit in love with her myself. I could hardly blame Gil for doing the same.
I could go on, but anything else will spoil it for you. I certainly don’t want to give away the end, which was both expected and slightly unexpected at the same time. That seems a contradiction, I know, but this is a film best enjoyed by not being overly logical.
This film is Woody Allen’s love letter to Paris… I’m so glad he let me read it over his shoulder.