Midnight in Paris (2011)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris evokes a charming sense of enchantment, doesn't it? Alone those mere three words invoke thoughts of strolling down one of the famed city of light’s sidewalks or enjoying a latte on a sidewalk café but put them together to title this movie and we have a very different story. At first, this had the right idea but unfortunately, I don’t think this movie had the right set-up to be truly great.

Gil (Owen Wilson) is a tag-along on his future in-laws business trip to Paris along with his beautiful, opinionated but bossy fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) – and he doesn’t even mind that his travelling companions are his future in-laws or the travelling arrangements, not really. Being in Paris is wonderful and nothing is going to get to him. Even walking in the rain while in Paris is more enchanting than anywhere else – it is an experience that everyone should have. Unfortunately, his fiancée does not share his opinion. A writer whose screenplay work is in high demand from Hollywood producers, Gil doesn’t want to be known just for blockbuster movies which prompts him to try more serious writing. He is currently struggling through his first novel, and always in the back of his mind is the thought of making a permanent move to Paris while Inez ignores his ramblings and continues plans with their eventual move to Florida. Bumping into some of Inez’s friends, Gil declines their offer of a night out dancing and instead takes a walk in the night air. Imagine his surprise when Paris at midnight turns into Paris in the roaring twenties – the era that Gil thinks of as the “golden age.”

Inspiration soon floods Gil’s senses as he becomes more interested in writing his novel. He is swept into the world of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemmingway, Cole Porter, and well-known and respected book editor Gertrude Stien (Kathy Bates). It isn’t until he meets the alluring Adriana (Marion Cotillard) that his life really changes. Amazed that he is actually talking with the people who have shaped his life as a writer, Gil soon immerses himself in their world… and draws even further away from his own.

Creativity in writing is one of the best things about this platform that allows a writer to express themselves. There is still a line between creative and unique. Part of me thinks this movie has both characteristics and in fact actually nailed them but another part of me has to admit that this Woody Allen movie is just… an oddity. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate this movie. In fact, I laughed myself silly over some of the quirks but it lacks a lot. It is as if it didn’t finish “polishing” its story and as a result, the movie leaves a lot to be desired.

I’ve not seen any of Allen’s films save for one and while it was cute enough, it leaves us with an unsettled feeling. For me, it's for this reason that I felt this was far too peculiar to watch beyond once or twice. If you’ve seen many movies by this Hollywood “legend” then you will understand what I am saying and you’ll get the gist of how this one unfolds. Some movies resonate with its viewer, others don’t. This one was the latter for me. My blog friend Ruth saw Midnight in Paris (her conclusions are completely different than mine, so do check out her thoughts for a different perspective) when it was in theaters this past year, and she really enjoyed it. Its “artsy” tendencies and location appealed to her – admittedly, the latter might be the one really great thing about this production. The scenery is just lovely… and charming… and gorgeous… and breathtaking. It captures your eye and leaves us all the more excited at the prospect of someday seeing the Eiffel tower. Likewise the costuming is a small wonder.

Anything that covered the roaring twenties time frame never did appeal to me but with BBC recently commissioning series and movies that are from more recent eras, I have been asked to change my opinion or give up British period pieces altogether. Quite unexpectedly, I’ve changed my tune. I now love ninetieth and twentieth century costume dramas (Duh! Downton Abbey, anyone?) and even WWII productions. These costumes are just as lovely as any I’ve seen although that part of the movie is far too fleeting. Another thing I am going to be picky about as regards this one is the acting. Wilson always plays the bumbling idiot (sorry fans), and here he is no different. He rambles on and never seems to make any points or stand up to Inez – who usually just “shushes” him because she has more important things to concentrate on. Rachel is somehow still charming in the role (have I mentioned how much I like this actress? *grin*), but at the same time we never really form an attachment to her – or anyone for that matter. Allison Pill really shines in this movie but she is in it for all of ten minutes. Could that be telling of this movie’s inability to create good character structure? Perhaps it has something to do with nearly four minutes passing before even a word of dialogue is heard. That seems as good as any distinction to blame.

I didn’t see watching Midnight in Paris as a waste of my time. Will I ever see it again? Probably not, but it did have some good things to say. The fact that Gil finally realized the direction his life was leading was not the right one for him is good. I didn’t look at Gil’s eventual decision so much one motivated by selfishness as one that was best for everyone involved. If we let it, the story can be a lesson that teaches us to live in the present, not the past because no matter how badly we may want to, we cannot change it. All we can do is live each new day to the best of our ability and strive to see those same mistakes don’t repeat themselves.
CONTENT: there's a few sexual innuendoes; one woman admits to having a brief fling, and another suggests in a diary she “made love” with someone who is not her “significant other.” References inform us that a woman has a history of living with her boyfriends. Profanity is rare but not absent. Social drinking is prominent. The film is rated PG13.


  1. I had heard of this movie,but I didn't really know what is was about.
    Thanks for the review.

  2. Hmmm...this sounds...weird... :P I'm not sure I would like it, because I don't usually like books {or movies, in this case} that has the main character going into the past..it just sort of annoys me! Haha, yeah, I'm weird :)

  3. Ella - this one is a bit confusing. Hope this review told you what it was all about. =)

    Trinka - yep! That is a good way to put it. I did like the movie but am not likely to re-watch it anytime soon if ever.

    Depending on how it is done, I don't mind the hero/heroine going into the past but like I said, it has to be done "right." =D

  4. I'm sorry this movie didn't quite work for you, but thanks for sharing your thoughts and linking to my review! This is one of my top films of 2011. :)

  5. Okay, you have GOT to make a blog button, girl! Well either that or let ME make you one {again} Or you could design it and I could make the code if you want...
    Or, I can just totally disregard anything you say {such as if you tell me to stop being so annoying...} and make one then email you the code...your pick!

  6. Ruth - yeah... me, too. =) I didn't feel like it was a waste of my time because I did like some parts of it, but it didn't end up being my thing. I should have known considering nothing of Allen's ever seems to appeal to me, still, I did want to really love it...

    Trinka - oh! Okay, I'll get a blog button up. ;D When I started blogging, I just never thought I was the type of blog that needed one, but if you really want to see one for Scribbles, Scripts and Such... I'll make one. ;D

    First, let's set one thing straight: you are NOT annoying. I love your feedback and thoughts, girl! =D

  7. Woody Allen movies always leave me unsatisfied, which is why there's no rush for me to see this one. I expect it will be the usual fare for the writer -- dull, overlong, full of immoral characters, and uninspired.

  8. That is actually a good way to sum this one up, Charity. "...overlong, full of immoral characters, and uninspired."

    I wasn't bored by the movie, but it didn't capture me so that I'm clammoring to see it again. The characters might not be as immoral as some... but on second thought, we do learn something about Inez near the end and Gil certainly thinks about cheating on his fiancee. I couldn't believe it actually WON some oscar(s) - my dad was like, "really!? they awarded it to that!?"

    Everyone is so different though, and there were a lot of people who liked this one. =)


Have a thought? Don't be shy, go ahead and leave one... or two... or three! I reply to every comment. If you're new to the blog, please don't hesitate to introduce yourself and your blog - we love chatting around here!

Feedback and every comment is appreciated and read - I always leave a response; your opinions are respected and I ask that you show mine the same courtesy.

(If you post under “anonymous,” please leave a name. If you don't have a Google account, you can type your name into the Name/URL and if you have no site, just leave "URL" blank.)

If you are still reading my ramblings, thank you for following this little blog and for being one of its supporters. I’ve enjoyed getting to know each of you, friends!

Latest Instagrams

© Finding Wonderland. Design by FCD.