Midnight in Paris (2011)
An American couple, Gil and Inez (Owen Wilson, Wedding Crashers and Rachael McAdams, Sherlock Holmes) tag along with Inez’s parents on a business trip to Paris. While touring the sites, Gil considers moving to the city to reinvigorate his writing career and unexpectedly finds himself in 1920’s Paris, hobnobbing with artistic greats like Picasso and Fitzgerald. During Gil’s adventures through time, the film takes you on a comical and philosophical ride of catchy music, scenic shots of Paris, and truly colorful acting.
A lovely cross between Back to the Future and The Sun Also Rises (yes, I just paired those two titles), the movie mocks obnoxious pedantry and yet only delivers humor to those who understand its literary/historical jokes. As you laugh at the obvious portrayals of Hemingway and Dali (that you only get because you took that Modernism course sophomore year), you realize that Midnight in Paris is simultaneously a slap in the face to pseudo-intellectualism and a brilliant opportunity to stroke your own intellectual ego.
As with Woody Allen’s other recent films, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger, this movie allows the viewer to identify with different characters at different times, leaving you to wonder how you really feel about art and ex-patriotism. While the characters may seem almost stock (the aspiring writer, the Tea Party ass, the blonde American prep), you realize this is the beauty of Allen’s work: he proves that there is a reason some stereotypes exist. The film practically serves as a mirror for its audience, as I observed during the ending credits. “This was stupid,” the Abercrombie-wearing bro snapped as he stomped out of the theater, his sad-eyed girlfriend in tow (meanwhile, my own academic boyfriend proudly guffawed at the Bunuel jokes).
Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon, Tron) stands out as the wine-swilling art history buffoon and Corey Stoll’s breakout Hemingway had me choking on my popcorn with laughter. Sincere performances by Wilson and Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose, Inception) make us question the beauty and terror of nostalgia, while the film’s magical realism unapologetically entertains. All in all, Midnight in Paris is a delightful evening stroll away from the summer’s exploding CGI cash cows, truly a walk in the park. Grade: A-