I love quirky movies and Midnight in Paris couldn’t be quirkier. When this film was first released I had several friends who told me I had to see it. In my book, the only thing better than a good movie is traveling…almost anywhere. Well, Paris doesn’t fall into the “almost anywhere” category, but the moment I sat down in the theater with my popcorn I was reeled in—hook, line and sinker.
Gil (Owen Wilson) is a successful Hollywood screenwriter engaged to Inez (Rachel McAdams) who loves him very much or at least what their life together would be. Rachel’s parents are going to Paris on a business trip and have asked Gil and Rachel to tag along. Gil thinks this is a perfect time to work on his novel, Rachel wants to shop and party.
Having lived in Paris for a short time in his 20’s, Gil had aspirations in his youth to be a serious writer. Opportunities came and he realized he was a good screenwriter. The literary dreams were postponed and he woke up ten years later, successful and unfulfilled and craving Paris.
But he’s back and decides to leave Inez and her mother to their shopping and wander the streets seeking inspiration. Inez’ shopping turns into dinner parties with friends from America and his daytime meanderings become forays after dark. One night while sitting on some steps in a neighborhood, he’s not sure where, a group of partiers in a vintage automobile stop and entreat him in, in to a whole new world, a whole new era. This YouTube age writer finds himself meeting icons and idols of a bygone era.
His new found friends are F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway and all their friends. They meld him into their lives and their hearts. This is the life he was meant to live and all it took was a magical stroll through a magnificent city. Gil had found his groove amongst a lost generation.
I’ve never been much of a Woody Allen fan but he loves Paris and his love is epitomized in Midnight in Paris. The last time I was in Paris I spent most of the day riding the “spokes” of the city to the outskirts of town and back. The scenery is real yet ethereal. The plot is fanciful. I never found F. Scott Fitzgerald that day but maybe I wasn’t looking for the magical.
The take-away from this movie though, is that we need to learn to enjoy the present for all it’s worth. It’s a little like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, in the end there’s no place like home.
This is a loving embrace of the city, art, and of life itself. Midnight in Paris is charming, clever and wickedly astute. Allen said that he got a great enjoyment out of presenting Paris to the cinematic audience the way he sees it. To me, the way he sees it is literate and beauty filled and yes, quirky. This film is predictably unpredictable! For an evening of pure fantasy (it’s a little like falling down a rabbit hole) it’s purely delightful.
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