Midnight in Paris sees the successful continuation of Woody Allen’s “later European renaissance films”, joining the likes of Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Match Point. Allen’s cinematic proclivities usually see a city showcased with both popular and obscure architecture and picturesque settings, and Midnight is no exception.
For Gil (a neurotic Woody Allen based Owen Wilson), Paris is a magical place. Whether it is by day, by night or in the rain, Paris intoxicates him. His fiancé Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her parents (Kurt Fuller and Mimi Kennedy) are less impressed. After a painfully numbing day with Inez’s American friend (a pedantically irritating Michael Sheen), Gil is taken to 1920’s Paris by way of a time traveling age-appropriate car. Enter a seductive selection of writers, musicians and artists of the time, including the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Salvador Dali and Gertrude Stein. Gil also meets the enchanting Adriana (Marion Cotillard) and keeps visiting each night.
The results are magical, creating a fantasy world comparable to Allen’s terrific The Purple Rose of Cairo. Midnight wonderfully blends nostalgia and a yearning for the past alongside the disappointing reality of the present. Like Cairo the film has a lot to say about the lead star’s disenchantment with the modern day world. In a stroke of brilliance, Allen manages to convey this sense of discontent as universal, occurring over all over the world, all throughout time. Ultimately, everyone is seeking a fantasy world that ceased to exist many years ago. And there is some comfort in knowing that we are not alone.
A simply superb cast feature in Midnight with special mentions to Wilson, Cotillard and Corey Stoll who plays a brilliant Hemingway. Under Allen’s guidance, Paris looks beautifully effervescent screen. Woody Allen has made another instant classic that will satisfy fans and cinema-goers alike and will hopefully bring him a few Oscar nominations.