Monday, December 19, 2011

The Golden Age in the City of Lights: Quick Look at Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris

We went to the dollar movie yesterday and for $1.25 (inflation has hit even the dollar movies) saw Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris.

Owen Wilson plays a dreamer who has made a fortune writing screenplays but longs to find a sympathetic soul to read his first novel. His fiancee and her family seem wrong for him in every way but he doesn't notice because he's so busy longing for the Golden Age of 1920's Paris when the American writers and artists mingled. One evening, lost in a dark side street, sitting forlornly on the steps, he hears midnight chime and a very old yellow taxi pulls up. The merry group inside beckon him in and he joins them only to find himself literally swept away to meet his idols.

Midnight in Paris has a surprisingly straight-forward story and moral, albeit one told with a romantic eye to the artists in 1920s Paris and those who yearn nostalgically for the past. This is a love letter to Paris, a nod to comedy, a commentary on modern Americans in Paris, and above all a reminder that now is all the time we have and we may be living in a golden age in the present. Sweet, charming, and funny. A winner all 'round.

I give it four stars out of five because there were a few details which didn't work with the logic of the story quite right, and which we all noticed. They don't make that much of a difference but catching them would have gotten a bit closer to perfection.

My favorite people were Hemingway and Dali but I must also add that I've never understood people who say that Marion Cotillard is beautiful. Until now. She is luminous in this film. Kathy Bates was also perfectly cast as Gertrude Stein. All were just a joy to behold in this film.


  1. I loved that movie. I particularly liked the way they didn't even try and explain the time travel. 1.21 gigawatts not needed ;-)

  2. I enjoyed it too, and I found it especially interesting compared to Woody Allen's earlier work on similar themes. In the story, "The Kugelmass Episode," he had a middle aged professor escape reality by inserting himself magically into Madame Bovary, only to find that Emma B. was a bore. In the end, he found himself trapped in a Spanish grammar textbook. In his movie, "The Purple Rose of Cairo," we left Mia Farrow staring at the movie screen, unable to deal with her real life. But in this movie, Owen Wilson has his magical encounter but returns from it, back to his regular life, invigorated and refreshed and ready to move on and grow. I thought it was a nice change in tone.

  3. Desperate Irish Housewife12/19/11, 3:41 PM

    Delighted to see the quotation from "Millions" in your sidebar today. One of my favorite Christmas movies!

  4. I wasn't familiar with the story but we all noted the difference between despair and hope in Purple Rose versus Midnight.

    We thought perhaps Woody took Gertrude Stein's advice! :-D

    And it made me feel happy that Woody Allen had progressed to the point where he could pass that message along to everyone, since he always seemed a rather despairing soul in many ways.

  5. Thanks for the review.... I'd heard good things but our plans to see in the theater kept getting delayed.... I'm looking forward to renting it very soon!