MRR Movie Review: Midnight in Paris

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Directed by Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris" is a romantic comedy which follows a family traveling to the French capital for business. The party includes a young engaged couple forced to confront the illusion that a life different from their own is better.
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Movie Review: "Midnight in Paris"

-- Rating: PG-13
Length: 94 minutes
Release date: June 10, 2011
Directed by: Woody Allen
Genre: Comedy / Fantasy / Romance

As "Midnight in Paris" begins, Gil (Owen Wilson) is stuck in a life he can't change and longing for a life that he can't ever obtain. Gil goes to Paris with an insufferable woman he is supposed to love, but he longs for 1920s Paris, a time and place he imagines as more artistic, more intellectual, and better in every way. Gil is the typical Woody Allen character in what seems to be a typical Woody Allen film. The entire film is a fantasy built on all the things that Gil wants but believes he cannot have. The real question of the film is whether the fantasy really provides the best life for such a lost soul.

"Midnight in Paris" finds Gil in the romantic city with his fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams), and her parents. The parents are as shallow and haughty as their daughter. Gil tries to create a great getaway while working on the novel he always wanted to write. Inez and her parents, however, want to shop and do all the touristy activities that Paris has to offer. Exasperated, Inez finally sends Gil out on his own, probably wanting as little to do with him as he does with her.

That fateful voyage into the Parisian night brings Gil face to face with a 1920 Peugeot, the sports car of the rich and pretentious during that era. Gil hails a cab, but the antique car pulls up instead, inviting him out for the night of his life. Immediately, the man is transported to Paris in the 1920s, a time when artistic dreams and intellectual conversations weighed more on the minds of the city's people than shopping and couture. He ventures into an establishment owned by Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), where Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), Salvadore Dali (Adrien Brody), Cole Porter (Yves Heck), and many other artistic greats hang out. Gil is in heaven.

During his outing, Gil meets Adriana (Marion Cotillard) and is smitten. She is a woman of the era: strong, full of ideas, and a stark contrast to the vapid Inez, whom Gil left in the 21st century. He loves his fantasy outing and quickly finds out that it is easy to become trapped in such a fantasy world-if he isn't dreaming it all up.

Woody Allen creates a spellbinding tale that takes the concept of finding oneself to a fantastic level. Gil seems to be sleepwalking through a life that revolves around Inez and her dreams of shopping off the paychecks he makes as a screenwriter. In fact, she is only interested in his career for the money. Nothing else seems to matter to her or her parents. Gil, asleep at the wheel, has been unable to see through these people. Before his trip in the Peugeot, Gil was setting himself up for an eternity of misery.

He finds himself in the past, where artistry has meaning and materialism matters less. He finds someone who loves him for who he is and not for his money. This wakeup call comes in a past dominated by some of the greatest literati to ever live, who help Gil along his way to self-discovery. Allen's use of familiar faces to play the famous artists of the 1920s should not be ignored. The actors play their literati parts very well, giving audiences some very entertaining scenes that mimic what could have occurred when these great minds got together, and it's a real treat for the audience.

Paris itself feels like a character in this film. Allen shoots the city in all its romantic glory, giving audiences views of the landmarks and streets that would put a travel magazine to shame. The scenes of Paris in the 1920s transport the audience to an era of parties and extravagance, before the European Union and French debt worries. The music, scenery, joviality, and characters are like an invitation from Allen to anyone looking to steal away from materialistic American society for a night. The entire movie is a picturesque postcard and a love letter to a great city.

"Midnight in Paris" takes audiences on a journey in which self-discovery occurs as a by-product of enjoying the fun of the era and the city. "Midnight is Paris" is a fantastic voyage that will have many people booking a flight as soon as the credits end.

Rating: 3 out of 5