“Midnight In Paris”Is Ex-Pat Delight
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
The Woodman – as fans of Woody Allen like to call him – had a longtime cinematic love affair with New York City. Witness: “Manhattan,” “Annie Hall,” even “Manhattan Murder Mystery.” IMO, among his best films.
Woody abandoned New York as fans abandoned him over his paterfamilias affair with his later wife Soon-Yi Previn. Unfortunately, his filmmaking never quite meshed with England (e.g. “Scoop,” “Cassandra’s Dream,” “You’ll Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger”). Or maybe the films lost their edge as the auteur grew too old to star in them himself. “I got too old to get the girl,” he said.
Perhaps his autobiographical films (well, inspired by his own neurotic sensibilities) lost their bearings without him in front of the camera as well as behind it.
But let’s go with the locale theory, for his latest film “Midnight In Paris” exhibits some of that old spark. He seems to find Paris as fascinating as he once found Manhattan. Seems he’s willing to forget foggy old London Town and focus on the City of Lights.
As usual, he has a large ensemble cast of stars and near-stars: Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams play a young couple – Gil and Inez – who go to Paris on business. Gil is an unhappy Hollywood screenwriter who wants to write a novel, but Inez and her friends put him down, making fun of the idea. This kinda bums him out.
While walking along the Parisian streets at midnight, Gil accepts a ride with a group of party-hardy strangers – only to find himself transported back to the 1920s, a “Golden Age” he has read about and daydreamed about.
And who does he bump into in this time warp? Yep, Ernest Hemingway (Carey Stoll) and Gertrude Stern (Kathy Bates). Not to mention F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda (Tom Hiddleston and Alison Pill), Salvador Dali and Luis Buñuel (Adrien Brody and Adrien de Van), Pablo Picasso and Henri Mattisse (Marcial Di Fonzo Bo and Yves-Antoine Spoto), Edgar Degas and Paul Gauguin, (François Rostain and Olivier Rabourdin), even that runt, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (Vincent Menjou Cortes).
Marion Cotillard and Michael Sheen are along for the ride. And France’s first lady Carla Bruni appropriately enough does a cameo as a museum guide.
This is a grass-is-greener plot. Gil discovers there’s no place like, uh, the present.
Woody has toyed with this theme before in movies like “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” where Mia Farrow dreams of that imaginary world on the silver screen as a better place. Even in “Zelig,” our hero pops up Forrest Gump-like through a span of time, seeking a happy identity.
Let’s see if Woody makes another film in Paris. This one is actually a co-production between U.S. and Spanish backers. It’s a good ex-patriot substitute for New York, I suppose. At least Hemingway & Company thought so.
Ironically, the only appearance three-time Oscar-winner Woody Allen ever made at the Academy Awards was in 2002, when following 9/11 he pleaded with producers to continue filming their movies in New York City.
Ah, Woody, if you’d follow your own advice.
[from Solares Hill]