Monday, 13 June 2011

Midnight in Paris

Regular readers will not be surprised to read that Midnight in Paris is my idea of good romantic comedy. Not that long ago I wrote that Woody Allen at his worst (Hollywood Ending, made in 2002, is his worst, in my opinion) is still better than most of what passes for comedy dramas today. Midnight in Paris may not be Woody Allen at his best (the days of Manhattan and Annie Hall) but this is easily the best film he has made since Everyone Says I Love You in 1996.

Midnight in Paris tells the story of Gil and Inez, an engaged couple visiting Paris with Inez’s parents. Gil (well-played by Luke Wilson) is a would-be novelist who likes to look back to the Golden Age of 1920’s Paris and wants to move to Paris to write. Inez (Rachel McAdams is well-cast here) wants to stay in California and wants Gil to go back to what brings in the money: screenwriting. When they meet acquaintances whom Gil finds pretentious, their paths diverge and Gil finds himself caught up in a late-night Parisian world beyond his wildest fantasies. I refuse to say more, because this is a Woody Allen film I will recommend to all my readers and you should try not to know more than this before watching the film.

Midnight in Paris is full of wonderful performances (Marion Cotillard and Kathy Bates are standouts), witty and intelligent dialogue, great music and fascinating cinematography. It is very funny (much funnier than Bridesmaids, in my opinion), even if watching yet another actor (Wilson) play Woody Allen is a little distracting. And it is very romantic in a classic kind of way. The film touches on interesting themes like finding meaning in our empty existence and why so many people think life was better in some golden days of the past. I wish it had done a little more with these ideas, but you can’t have everything.

If I wasn’t so stingy with giving four stars to a film, I would give Midnight in Paris four stars. But since I am stingy, I will stay with ***+ and add that it will almost certainly be in my top ten films of 2011.

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