I have a few problems with Woody Allen’s recent catalogue – he seems to want to tell everyone what love really is…
Or at least suggest we’re all fools for not having as broad and ‘philosophical’ a view as himself.
Fortunately, Midnight in Paris largely steers clear of this annoying habit so we can enjoy a wonderful stroll down Parisien alleyways in sunlight, twilight and dream-light in the company of the endlessly charming Owen Wilson.
Ruminating on love & relationships as ever, we also (thankfully) get to ponder nostalgia and the odd phenomenon of feeling we were born too late; or perhaps too early. This is achieved by plunging us, along with Owen Wilson’s wistful writer Gil via a fantastical deus ex, into a rose-tinted imagining of 1920s Paris, where artistic legends (Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, F Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald etc.) are forever meeting to drink and discuss life, death & romance.
It’s a loosely historical context that serves up laughs, references & absurdities, and you can just about forgive ‘Gil’ for somehow worming his way into the attention & affections of this near-mythical group.
Everyone is fun to watch; the caricatures of literary legends are fun and engaging, with Alison Pill, Corey Stoll & Kathy Bates standing out – but none moreso than the magically alluring & mysterious Marion Cotillard; captivating and believable as an artistic muse.
Overall, it’s an enchanting film, all the more so for the fact that you don’t really have to know anything about the city’s history or any of these figures to enjoy the ride! The narrative successfully challenges our perennial sense of ‘greener grass elsewhere’ without succumbing to dreary negativity, and instead leaves you with a vague sense of hope.
One to watch, enjoy and chuckle at, and possibly keep thinking about; especially if you’ve ever imagined what a wonderful life you could have if you were born then, lived there, or achieved that.