While on a trip to Paris with his fiancé’s family, a nostalgic screenwriter finds himself mysteriously going back to the 1920s every day at midnight.
Year 1, Day 212
BEFORE: After a smashing success with Annie Hall yesterday, I’m following it up with another Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris. This does not star Allen but it was written by him (for which he won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay). Nominated for three other Oscars (Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Art Direction), Midnight in Paris also appears to be high up on the list of Allen’s best films so I’m extremely excited to see what is in store.
AFTER: Midnight in Paris is a much different film than Annie Hall was. At first I was a bit shocked and upset but it wasn’t that long before I became interested in this film. While it’s listed as a comedy I would consider it more of an exploratory film. Not as in an experimental film but more along the lines of a character-driven story that’s got a bit of drama and a bit of comedy strewn throughout. Once I realized this was a different film (although I have no idea why I expected it to be the same) I began to laugh, feel, and follow Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) on his adventures.
Much like Annie Hall, the strongest element of the film is the main character, in this case the aforementioned Gil. While there are other characters, some quite important, the entire film is told through Gil’s point of view and revolves around him. So while his fiancé Inez (Rachel McAdams), F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston) and Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll) are vital to Gil’s development and the changes he goes through, it all relies on Gil. He is the glue that holds the film together. That’s sort of saying that he’s the only part of the film that’s interesting and while I think that’s true to some extent, there’s another part that just wants to go with it because he is such an interesting character.
In terms of the plot of the film, there’s some good and bad. One the one hand, I found it to be highly original. Reading the description it sounds like one of those tales that has been told a million times before (a man living in a fantasy world and the story he’s writing coming true in real life) and as far as I know it maybe have been told many times before. But I cannot think of an example so for me this idea of Gil traveling from 2010 back to the 1920s to meet his idols (Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Picasso, Dali, etc.) was extremely entertaining. However, I did feel as if there was some disconnect, mainly in the amount of time spent in each era. It seems like, after the introductory scenes in present day, that Gil spends his time solely in the past. He comes back to the present every once and a while but not much happens. It’s great to have these separate parallel stories going on but they need to be balanced and I don’t think Allen fully nailed it.
Midnight in Paris is another great entry into the Woody Allen filmography. It lacks the amount of humor in Annie Hall but he makes up for it with a unique and gripping tale with a lead character that you can get behind. I wouldn’t consider Midnight in Paris a masterpiece but it does reinforce my confidence in Woody Allen and my desire to see more of his films.
RATING: 4 out of 5