Film Review: Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen’s latest effort is a magical piece of filmmaking. Midnight in Paris could also be an advertisement from the French Tourism Board, so beguiling is the city.

On a trip to Paris with his fiancé and her parents, writer Gil cannot get enough the city. Gil longs to walk through Paris in the rain, and laments that he did not live in the city when he was a young writer. However, Gil’s fiancé Inez prefers to spend time with her friends Paul and Carol. When Gil wanders off for a midnight stroll, he finds the ultimate source of inspiration for his writing…

Midnight in Paris is a lovingly-crafted ode to both Paris and nostalgia. The film has the hallmarks of a Woody Allen film on a broad level. Gil is less nervy than most of the director’s protagonists. Midnight in Paris does not feature the incessant wit of some of Allen’s earlier films. Notwithstanding, the film has the wonderful charm of some of Allen’s best features. Moreover, Midnight in Paris paints such a beautiful picture.

The film explores ideas of fantasy within a set context. The sense of whimsy in the film is gratifying. It helps that the suspension of disbelief is brief. Not much time is wasted on questioning the more marvellous elements of proceedings. Instead, Gil is bewitched by the world he enters, much like the audience. Midnight in Paris evokes a similar style of fantasy to The Purple Rose of Cairo. Viewers share the protagonist’s awe as he enters a different world, one that is constructed to be as fascinating to the audience as it is to Gil.

Characters are finely constructed in Midnight in Paris. There are many characters with smaller roles, but each of these is succinctly developed and come across as realistic. Although the main characters are quite wealthy, the archetypes should be both recognisable and relatable to most.

Owen Wilson offers a decent performance as Gil. Wilson makes it easy to share the characters enthusiasm. Rachel McAdams is well cast as Inez, while Marion Cottillard is alluring as Adriana. Elsewhere, Michael Sheen is terrific as Paul and Alison Pill, Corey Stoll and Kathy Bates are great in their respective roles.

With its sumptuous imagery and beautiful soundtrack, Midnight in Paris functions as a fairy tale.  The film pontificates on the importance of nostalgia, giving the sensation adequate care and consideration, but concluding perfectly.