As a film buff, it kills me to say that I’m NOT a huge Woody Allen fan, that is until a few years ago when I saw his 2005 movie Match Point with Scarlett Johanssen and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. That is one of my favorite movies because it was perfectly acted and such a compelling script that it wiped out all stereotypes I had about Woody Allen’s movies. Sure, the follow ups, such as Cassandra’s Dream and Vicky Christina Barcelona haven’t been as strong for me, but after the buzz about Midnight in Paris, I was game to check it out. Let’s take a closer look.
Release date: May 20, 2011
Everyday Adventures’ grade: B
Summary: Americans Gil and Inez (Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams) are in Paris on a “freeloading vacation” with her family as he continues to work on his first book. Gil dreams of Paris in the 20s while Inez harps and then one night, he is magically transported back to 1920s Paris, where he gets to meet his writing idols and wonder if the grass is really greener in this idealized time.
My thoughts: This pains me a bit, but after hearing all of the buzz about this movie, I thought it would be a bit…better. I didn’t hate it but had a little higher expectations. First, the scenery is stunning. You see the main Paris sights but Allen also takes you to non descript places off the beaten path, which I love, and let’s you feel more like you’re with Gil, wandering the streets and seeing the subtle beauty others may miss. And I know the “time travel” element is a bit out there, but by the time Allen wraps it up in a little bow, I was already a little bored.
Owen Wilson does a great job in this movie as the California boy idealist Gil. He is really pitch perfect for this role but as the main character with lots of dialogue, wild gesturing and waxing poetic on the 20s, he gets to be a bit much. His idealism does start to make him seem naive, but he really starts to redeem himself after his revelation about his idealism. And Rachel McAdams is perfect yet insanely awful as a character to watch. She is harpy, rude, bitter and biting as his fiance and really, half of the movie I was almost hoping one of them would cheat so they wouldn’t get married. I mean, how these people are in love is truly difficult to believe.
The movie also has a strong supporting cast as Gil’s 1920s idols, including Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein, Adrian Brody as Dali and Marian Cotillard as Picasso’s mistress and object of Gil’s affection (thank goodness.) But all of these characters and actors are underused, basically as a cameo (as if to say, HEY! We got Adrian Brody and he’s Dali! Why not?), with the exception of a few. And the parade of literary and art masters from this time parade through but outside of a name dropping, the real purpose and impact they have for Gil is lacking.
But the redeeming part of this movie for me (minus the travel porn shots) is the theme Allen leads you to at the movie’s “climax,” which is, idolizing about another time or place is to help you ignore the trouble in your present and current situation. Once we finally hit that theme, the movie came together for me more and stopped to make me think, rather than just wonder what was going on in the movie.
I know, I feel like I should have liked this more. Maybe I’ll have to rent it again and see if it hits home for me more.
Verdict: If you’re a Woody Allen fan, see it, otherwise, you can pass. See Match Point instead!