Monday, March 12, 2012

Midnight in Paris

Year: 2011
Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Genre: Comedy, Romance

Midnight in Paris is a nice film but I don't see how it managed to garner acclaim with mainstream audiences. As a thinly-veiled love letter to Paris, you'd think typical moviegoers would be a little put off. Who cares about all this romantic junk that this guy is spouting about the city? It's just a city! Well, whatever, it turns out the movie is a nice one although it doesn't delve far enough for me.

If you know nothing about the film then you should probably skip this review because the main part of the plot is a nice surprise. So, you've got this American writer named Gil who is completely enamored with Paris. Fine, whatever, aren't we all. He's gone there with his fiance and ends up discovering a way to travel back in time to when Paris was brimming with famous artist types. He meets up with Ernest Hemmingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald, and a great deal of other people.

Once he's in this land of the past he finds himself swept away by everyone and everything. This time just seems so much better than his own, at least for a while. But every day he comes back to the modern age and sees his life just isn't turning out the way he'd hoped it would.

Personally I don't think it went far enough. It has a hint of magical realism with the time travel, but nothing further. Why is this all there is? I guess that's not a bad thing though, just rubbed me as a little bit silly. Secondly, here's yet another case of romanticizing cheating. At least for this movie we are able to see the disingenuous nature of Gil's engagement first hand instead of having to blindly assume it.

Overall the biggest turn off for me was that this film feels like a big love letter to Paris and its people. That is fine, but a movie lauding the place does nothing for me. It seems the film only exists to say "wow, look at all these cool people! I'm interacting with them - this is so cool!" and that seems the biggest point that the plot serves. It also seems odd to me that the film discusses our constant longing for a "golden age" - an age which truly doesn't exist. And yet, in the end, Gil basically finds his golden place, so to speak, in Paris. Wasn't the point of the film to show that nothing is perfect? The grass will always be greener on the other side? Oh well, apparently there is a truly golden place and age because Gil gets to bask in it at the end.

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