Midnight in Paris
(PG) Madman DVD/BD
Oscar winning writer/director Woody Allen (Annie Hall) shows his sentimental side in Midnight in Paris, his best work in years.
Gil (Owen Wilson, channelling Woody for a new generation) is on holiday in Paris with his fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams). A naïve soul with a heart of gold, Gil gave up his dreams of being a great writer years ago for a career as a Hollywood hired hand. What he really longs for is “Paris, in the ’20s, in the rain. The artists and writers!”
The City of Light is captured here with great skill and passion; shot entirely on location in Paris. Allen wanted his cinematographer Darius Khondji to achieve a “warm ambience”. The opening montage contains three-and-a-half minutes of unashamedly beautiful location shots.
Paris in the springtime reignites Gil’s passion but does not have the same effect on the practical Inez, who plans a life for them in Malibu. Gil likes to walk in the rain; Inez would rather get a cab, and the two are undeniably incompatible.
Forced to endure Inez’s nightmarish, conservative parents (Kurt Fuller and Mimi Kennedy) and the company of “pseudo-intellectual” Paul (Michael Sheen), Gil takes solace in a late-night stroll and, at the stroke of midnight, a car comes by and its passengers invite him to join them.
What happens to Gil once he enters this car? If I told you I could hardly forgive myself, because the surprise is half the fun.
For the romantic at heart, and those who dream of the golden ages of the past, Midnight in Paris is serious wish fulfilment. Both times I saw it in cinemas the audience applauded at the end, proving that this is surprisingly feel-good stuff from the usually cynical Woody Allen. Never fear, the dreaminess is still infused with razor sharp wit (landing him Best Original Screenplay at the recent 2012 Academy Awards) and the antics of a truly remarkable supporting cast, including Kathy Bates, Marion Cotillard and Adrien Brody, are outrageously entertaining.