Thursday, February 23, 2012

Midnight in Paris

Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Adrien Brody, Kathy Bates
Director: Woody Allen
Running Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes
Rating: PG-13

Paris is the most exquisite city in the world. A few years ago, I had the pleasure of spending three days in the City of Lights, and enjoyed the most delicious cuisine, saw the most stunning architecture, and completely fell in love with the city’s bustling and magical atmosphere. I loved saying “bonsoir” in my silly American accent, though I felt so Parisian. Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” is nominated for Best Picture and Best Director this year, and features an all-star cast. Though the story was refreshing and playful, it was on the verge of being too unrealistic. No complaints on the setting though; the beautiful shots of Paris’ landscape made me eager to return.

Owen Wilson steps away from his usual roles as a wedding crasher or Zoolander’s nemesis for a turn as a writer with his head in the clouds. He was charming and believable as a hopeless romantic longing to live during the Golden Age of Paris in the 1920s, but instead he’s stuck as a film writer with an over-bearing and irritating fiancée. Rachel McAdams also plays in a different light here, as his bitch of a fiancée, Inez. She made us loathe this character. The two are in Paris on vacation with her parents and family friends, yet their 4-star dinners and museum tours are nothing compared to the fun Gil (Wilson) has every night.

As the clock strikes midnight, Gil is transported back to the 1920s via an old-timey car. It’s been a while since I’ve watched a fairy tale. When your heroine is Amy Adams, and she sings duets with birds as she tidies a house, I can easily fall into the fantasy world. However, it was somewhat difficult to buy into the make-believe aspect of a magical car. But I went with it. On his nightly journeys, he meets the likes of Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Picasso, who are in the process of creating some of their most important work. One muse in particular is Adriana - Marion Cotillard, who is exceptionally lovely, as always. The two ultimately fall for each other – talk about a long-distance relationship! It’s obvious that he was born in the wrong century, and was meant to live amongst these artistic geniuses.

Flash forward to daytime, when Gil is taken back to present-day 2011, though we don’t see how that happens exactly. Gil foolishly tries explaining what he experiences each night, and suffice it to say, everyone thinks he’s lost his mind. He’s also totally blind to the fact that his fiancée and their pedantic travel buddy (Michael Sheen) are having an affair - McAdams and Sheen actually began dating in real life after filming this movie!

The music is one of the best things about this film. I don’t know how Stephane Wrembrel was looked over for getting a nomination for this alluring soundtrack, including a beautiful rendition of “Barcarolle” from “The Tales of Hoffman.” The enchanting music helps the audience fall into the fantasy. At one point in the movie, Gertrude Stein (a great Kathy Bates) tells Gil: “We all fear death and question our place in the universe; the artist’s job is not to succumb to despair, but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.” We so desperately want Gil to be able to stay in the 1920s, however we know it would be impossible. Quick shout-out to Adrien Brody as an exaggerated Salvador Dali. It was nice to see Brody in a comedic role, as opposed to starving his way through WW2 in “The Pianist” (though that’s a classic.)

I won’t ruin the ending, but we push for Gil to follow his heart. Is this the Best Picture of the year? No. Is this cute movie worth watching? Yes. It will make you want to go to Paris, and become well-versed in literature and art. Plus the love story will remind you of the fairy tales we all once enjoyed and still believe in today.

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