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Zimbio Review - 'MIDNIGHT IN PARIS'

Woody+Allen in Stars On The Set Of 'Midnight In Paris'
Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Gad Elmaleh and Woody Allen on the set of 'Midnight in Paris' in Paris, France. (FlynetPictures.com)more pics » The Bottom Line:
Should you see it?
Yes.

Why?
The depth of the writing is astounding. Allen's intellectualism is on full display.
What I hope will not be lost amongst the positive attention this film is getting is the wonderful performance of Owen Wilson. Of all the Woody Allen surrogates, Wilson seems to find the right balance of intelligence and anxiousness that defines the Allen protagonist. Wilson will always be a favorite of mine for his Dignan in Wes Anderson's great first feature: Bottle Rocket (one of the greatest comedic screen performances ever if you ask me). But Owen's film choices waver and he is often unlikable in unlikable movies. Although, he is not out to win an Oscar. He is a comedic actor and there is nothing harder to be. Wilson is on screen for nearly all of the 94 minutes of Midnight in Paris.

Gil (Wilson) and his fiancee, Inez (Rachel McAdams), are traveling with Inez's rich, right-wing parents on a business trip to Paris. Gil is a writer and is enraptured with just the thought of the city. He does his best to include Inez on the magic he's experiencing. His requests to "walk in the rain" are met with frowns and contempt from his spoiled fiancee. Right away, they seem mismatched. Gil is writing a book and longs for the "better times" of Paris in the twenties. "Living in the past.." is how Inez describes Gil to her pretentious friend Paul (Michael Sheen) and Paul's wife, Carol (Nina Arianda). During their sightseeing trip to Versailles, Inez is mesmerized by Paul's pedigree and intellect, but Gil is in another place.

At the end of the night, Gil goes for a walk alone and is feeling hopeless when an authentic Peugot pulls up alongside him and a party of people invite him along. Everyone in the car is dressed in turn of the century fashion and Gil debates going along. He eventually does of course, and is magically taken back to 1920's Paris where he realizes his hosts are none other than F. Scott (Tom Hiddleston) and Zelda Fitzgerald (Alison Pill). They laugh and drink "at a party for Jean Cocteau" and soon depart for another bar where they find Ernest Hemingway (a great Corey Stall).

This plays to Wilson's strengths, funnily stammering through introductions and naive queries in a way that no doubt made his director proud. Hemingway offers to show Gil's book to Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates) so they travel to her house where they find her discussing art with Picasso. Stein agrees to read Gil's book but he is so caught up he forgets to set a time and place to meet again. A funny moment occurs that night when Gil returns home: "Papa!" he coos to himself lying in bed, staring wide-eyed at the night sky of the magical city.

Like Alice coming home from Wonderland, things cannot be the same after the previous night and Gil suffers through another day beside his unimpressed girlfriend and her friends. He returns to the site of the party during the day but finds only a laundromat. However, once midnight rolls around again, Papa himself shows up in the same spot and Gil is whisked away again. He meets T.S. Eliot, Salvadore Dali (an uncanny Adrien Brody), and Luis Bunuel. Gil is time and again blown away by who he is meeting, but he is most interested in the gorgeous mistress of Modigliani, Braque and Picasso. Her name is Arianne (Marion Cotillard) and Gil is smitten.

In her, the writer finds what he seeks most in his soul mate. “A man in love with two women from different eras .. I see a film!” cries Bunuel. The great Spanish director also has the film's best line "Why don't they just leave?" in response to Gil pitching him his own idea for his film, The Exterminating Angel, about a dinner party where no one can depart. Gil's own work of art (which, incidentally, Stein approves of) is about a man who owns a nostalgia shop, so it's clear he is a man ripe for this type of experience. He does not question the curiosities or logic of the situation. He is taken in wholeheartedly and enthusiastically by the magic of Paris and his new, virtuoso friends.

This is Woody Allen as his best. His genius derives from not only creating unique fantasies, but knowing where fantasy comes from. One must be versed in the language to really appreciate a film like this. It takes a real intellectual or lots of research to catch all the references (I did the research). Love him or hate him, Allen is in a class of his own. He has made nearly a film a year for 40 years now, and Midnight in Paris is one of his best.


See photos from the Midnight in Paris premiere at the Cannes Film Festival:
  • Owen Wilson in Midnight In Paris Premiere - 64th Annual Cannes Film Festival
  • Owen Wilson in Midnight In Paris Premiere - 64th Annual Cannes Film Festival
  • Owen Wilson in Midnight In Paris Premiere - 64th Annual Cannes Film Festival
  • Owen Wilson in Midnight In Paris Premiere - 64th Annual Cannes Film Festival
  • Owen Wilson in Midnight In Paris Premiere - 64th Annual Cannes Film Festival
  • Owen Wilson in Midnight In Paris Premiere - 64th Annual Cannes Film Festival
  • Owen Wilson in Midnight In Paris Premiere - 64th Annual Cannes Film Festival
  • Owen Wilson in Midnight In Paris Premiere - 64th Annual Cannes Film Festival
View Owen Wilson Pictures »
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