Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Review: Midnight in Paris

South African release date: 30 December 2011
Genre: Fantasy/ Comedy.
Running time: 1 hour 34 minutes.

WITH: Kathy Bates (Gert), Adrien Brody (Salvador), Carla Bruni (Museum Guide), Marion Cotillard (Adriana), Rachel McAdams (Inez), Michael Sheen (Paul), Owen Wilson (Gil), Tom Hiddleston (Scott Fitzgerald), Alison Pill ( Zelda Fitzgerald), Marcial Di Fonzo Bo (Picasso), Corey Stoll (Ernest) and Léa Seydoux (Gabrielle).

Midnight In Paris sees Woody Allen embark on his next trip outside his beloved New York. Released in The US in May this year, the film has been highly regarded as some of Allen’s best work since the 1970s.

Allen’s unique brand of wit, comedy and romance as well as his excellent casting choices are largely why each aspect of Midnight In Paris unite in such a harmonious fashion. At 77 years old, Allen certainly understands that times have changed and has thus somewhat adapted his style but without losing its specific appeal. Perhaps Allen’s smartest move was the casting of Owen Wilson, who younger audiences will be familiar with from such films as Wedding Crashers (2005) and You, Me and Dupree (2006). His easy going charm and charisma suits Allen’s style perfectly.

The story follows Gil (Wilson), a rather uninspired Hollywood writer who has found himself tagging along on a trip to Paris with his fiancé Inez (McAdams) and her well-to-do parents. Gil’s romanticized view of Paris is very much like our own-it is whimsical, otherworldly, a slice of bohemian life which is just a few steps away from the reality we face at home. It is certainly no accident that Allen chose to open his film with a lengthy yet scenic establishing montage of the City of Lights. We are drawn into the dream to some extent, but just enough so that our feet are firmly placed on the ground. 
Owen Wilson as Gil and Rachel McAdams as Inez
While on the trip Gil hopes to find inspiration for his novel, which as it stands is without direction. While on their trip Gil and Inez bump into one of Inez’s old college professors and his wife. The pompous pseudo intellectual, Paul (Sheen) catches Inez’s eye and insists she and Gil accompany him on trips to galleries and museums as he parts with his facts about Parisian history. While Inez is eager to listen to Paul’s often inaccurate ramblings, a less than impressed Gil has other ideas. One evening he decides to leave the group and go for a walk through the historical streets. But this is no ordinary walk. Gil stops for a moment to take in his surroundings. The clock strikes midnight and something strange happens. A taxi stops in front of him and the door opens...
Marion Cotilliard as Adriana and Owen Wilson as Gil

What follows is a trip back to the 1920s. Of course, Allen does not attempt to explain how this transition into the 20s and back into the present day happens. This is not a downfall; just a mere request to suspend our imaginations. Gil’s trip to the past brings him in to contact with some of literature and art’s most respected figures including Ernest Hemmingway (Stoll) and Pablo Picasso (Di Fonzo Bo). But it is a meeting with Gertrude Stein (Bates) who Gil gives his novel to, to read and give him notes that speaks to him far beyond the pages of his book. The more time Gil spends in the past the more he realizes he has to confront and re-examine his present. Midnight In Paris proves to be a light, witty and enjoyable film. Allen’s unique style, invaluable charm and appeal will see a much broader audience than ever before warming up to it this season.

Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali, Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway and Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein

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