★ ★ ★ ★
Maddie and I bought a Groupon to Aperture Cinema a couple weeks ago. As much as I hate to admit I actually used a Groupon, because I think they are the silliest things ever invented, it actually was a pretty good deal. For those of you that know me, you know I am cheap; therefore, I can swallow my pride to save a little bit of money. Anyway, we finally used this said Groupon tonight and went to see Woody Allen’s latest film, Midnight in Paris.
Owen Wilson plays Gil Pender, a Hollywood screenwriter, who is on vacation to Paris with his fiancee, Inez (Rachel McAdams), and her parents. Very early on, it is alluded to that Gil had spent some time in Paris many years prior. In fact, he regrets his decision to leave and become a screenwriter, having much preferred staying and trying his luck at being a novelist. Though a successful screenwriter, he is working on a novel and would prefer moving to Paris and finishing his novel there. Inez, however, plans to stay in Southern California after they marry and continue their rather posh lifestyle there; Inez’s parents, who are wealthy, agree with her. Over the course of the vacation, Gil spends much time reluctantly going out to various places with Inez and her parents and her friends, Paul and Carol. One night, not wanting to go dance and a little drunk, Gil wonders off on his own. He gets lost on the streets of Paris, and when the clock strikes midnight, a mysterious 1920s-style car stops in front of him with an entourage of people encouraging him to get in. After his first excursion, he continues his midnight romps and ends up finding something more about himself through the beauty and allure of his Parisian nights.
I am a huge Woody Allen fan, have been for many years, and I think this Allen’s best film since Deconstructing Harry in 1997. I enjoyed Match Point, Cassandra’s Dream and Vicky Christina Barcelona, but this film seemed more genuine to me than any of them. The film is most definitely a romantic comedy, but not completely an Allenesque comedy. Interestingly, Paris itself is almost more of the love interest of the main character than anything else.
Darius Khondji’s cinematography is absolutely beautiful and elucidates the affection for Paris that Allen hopes to convey perfectly. The script is solid; light, comedic and romantic, but very solid. It also marks a chance at seeing Owen Wilson in a more serious role than he is usually accustomed. One, in which, he actually does a very good job. The supporting cast is very good as well, including many Oscar nominees and former winners such as Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates and Adrien Brody.
In short, Allen does a wonderful job of capturing the magic of Paris and has created a film that is as much of an ode to Paris as his classic 1979 masterpiece Manhattan was an ode to the Big Apple. I highly recommend this film and think even non-Allen lovers could find some enjoyment out of this one.