Sean K. Cureton

Unhinged in Paris

In Movie Reviews: 2011 on July 12, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Theatrical Poster

Midnight in Paris
Directed by Woody Allen
3 ½ out of 4 stars

Of all the great American directors who have come along within the past couple of decades, Woody Allen is certainly one of the most successful. Since the 70’s, Allen has been one of the busiest directors in America, and has made some of the most culturally relevant films of the past forty years. From 1977’s Annie Hall, to 2008’s Vicky Christina Barcelona, Allen has been writing and directing blockbuster films that have been able to steep themselves completely into the American consciousness. This legacy continues with Allen’s new film Midnight in Paris.

Set in France’s most famous city, Midnight in Paris is a comedic drama about a young writer named Gil, played by Owen Wilson, who accompanies his fiancée Inez, played by Rachel McAdams, and her parents on one final trip before the wedding. However, as the film proceeds, it becomes apparent that Gil is far more concerned with his own novel than he his with his bride-to-be, or her oafish friend and former teacher Paul. In hopes of taking a break from his traveling companions, Gil decides to sit down on a street corner at midnight one evening, while his fiancée goes elsewhere with her parents and Paul. While sitting, Gil is approached by a car, which transports him back in time to the 1920’s. Here, Gil seeks writing advice and commentary from such great writers as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and Ernest Hemingway, while meeting other such artists as Pablo Picaso and Salvador Dali. It is within this time period that most of the film takes place, with brief appearances in the present time, where Inez and her parents believe Gil to have gone crazy. Ultimately, the film ends with Gil returning to the present for good, after realizing that staying in the past will not solve his problems in the present, and that true happiness in life can only truly be found within one’s true present.

Much of what makes this film so great are all of the performances given that are supposed to be the great artists of the 1920’s. From Allison Pill’s delightful performance as Zelda Fitzgerald, to Corey Stoll’s hysterical portrayal of Ernest Hemingway, Allen has his audience hooked just from the standpoint of trying to catch all of the artists being presented.

Aside from the obvious fun of seeing performances that are supposed to mimic the personalities of such writers as Hemingway, Allen’s new film also boasts the best performance of Owen Wilson’s career. While Wilson is certainly not a bad actor, as can be seen in his brilliant performances in several Wes Anderson films, Wilson truly delivers in this picture in a way that he has not in the past. If the Oscars were to take place within the next month, Wilson would win Best Actor hands down.

In conclusion, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris is the kind of film only Allen could deliver. With a plot that centers on an anti-social protagonist who becomes completely unhinged within his own world, this is classic Woody Allen fare. Midnight in Paris is a definite must see.

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