Published on October 27th, 2011 | by Yellow Magpie1
Midnight In Paris Film Review: A Half-Baked Tourist Guide To Paris
Director: Woody Allen
Cast: Owen Wilson, Naomi Watts and Marion Cottillard.
Midnight In Paris is a film that seems to offer a lot but ultimately fails to follow its initial trajectory.
Gil is a highly successful Hollywood script-writer who is in love with Paris, a sentiment not shared by his fiancée, Inez. Gil, who strangely likes walking in the rain, decides to take a midnight stroll through the streets of the French capital with startling results.
Oddly, exactly at midnight a 1920’s chauffeur-driven car pulls up with the occupants, dressed in 20’s garb, beckoning Gil to come with them. The introspective script writer who desperately wants to be a novelist gets to live his fantasy as he is taken via a time-slip back to the 1920’s to the era of Earnest Hemingway, Salvador Dali, Picasso and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
‘Owen Wilson, playing the same character that gets him numerous parts, brings his usual likeability’
Gil soon learns that by going to the same location at midnight every night he can travel back in time with regularity. During one of his sojourns he meets the extremely attractive but naive, Adriana. Things come to a head as Gil is forced into making decisions.
Owen Wilson, playing the same character that gets him numerous parts, brings his usual likeability to the role. Keeping well within his compass, he creates a warm empathy in what is essentially an introverted, self-obsessed fantasist.
Rachel McAdams is excellent as the selfish, bullying wife-to-be. Exuding a tired, fed-up demeanour she subtly undercuts Gil at ever opportunity putting him down while building up her friend Paul.
On the 1920’s side, Marion Cotillard is good as the somewhat empty vessel of Adriana. Like Gil, she believes that a better world existed in the past. There is a underlying naivete and inescapable blankness in her soul that she tries to fill by being the mistress of artists. Unfortunately, like many aspects of Midnight In Paris, the reasons why she is like this are never developed.
‘Sheen is a pleasure to watch and captures the personality of Paul perfectly.’
The character of the film is Michael Sheen’s Paul. A pompous, vain, self-obsessed pedagogue, Paul’s conversations exist solely to appease his all-too-large ego. Sheen is a pleasure to watch and captures the personality of Paul perfectly. The posturing capricious swagger, the confident gait and the strong body language are supremely executed and create a nice contrast with Gil’s diffident personality.
Inez’s parents, Paul and Helen, with their Francophobic mindsets also provide sumptuous tension when interacting with the French-loving Gil. Both actors, Kurt Fuller and Mimi Kennedy, are excellent in their respective roles. The, albeit far too-short, encounters between Paul and Gill are particular noteworthy. As is the scene where Helen, Inez and Gil go antique shopping for an expensive chair.
‘she lacks the necessary impact.’
Nonetheless, these episodes are far too rare and remain underdeveloped. This could have been a mine of comic hilarity if well-executed.
Lea Seydoux playing the part of Gabrielle, an antique seller of knick-knacks, is the only actor that seems lost. She just is inconsequential and you would have to question why she was selected for the part in the first place as she lacks the necessary impact.
Carla Bruni making her film debut plays a museum guide. Bruni is understated and does quite well in the role.
Earnest Hemingway, portrayed by Corey Stoll, is a wonderful character in the film. He remarkably renders completely ridiculous observations believable with his earnest and forthright passion as he powers through any objections that Gil has to his ideas.
Despite the fine performances from the cast they are still secondary to the main character of the film, the city of Paris.The Parisians will be delighted with how stunning their city looks and Midnight In Paris is guaranteed to bring even more tourists to a city already overflowing with visitors.
Gil’s late night meanderings through Paris are enjoyable but from the point where he hops into a car at the behest of a group of party goers and ends up back in the 1920’s the film begins to go awry.
‘These are unsatisfactory meetings and not developed to their full potential.’
Many viewers will find themselves wanting to return to present day Paris, the sumptuous scenery and his bitchy fiancée. Instead the focus of the film is his midnight encounters with famous writers and artists of the past. These are unsatisfactory meetings and not developed to their full potential. Meanwhile Gil’s dialogues and scenes with his fiancée are promisingly fun and edgy.
Midnight in Paris remains a frustrating watch. They are so many good points but the film is under developed. After catching our attention it ultimately lets us down. Pity.