Midnight in Paris is one of the best surprises of the year. The film sort of came up out of nowhere and managed to makes its way into the top 10 at the box office. I went into the movie completely blind without any knowledge of what the film was actually about. All I saw was the poster with Owen Wilson on the cover. I also read a few tweets about how it’s one of Woody Allen‘s best films and I instantly went and saw it. I’ve never been a huge Allen fan, not because I don’t like his films, but because he has made so many and I am so behind. I think I have seen maybe three or four total, which is embarrassing, but that being said I can comfortably say that Midnight in Paris is the best of them all.
I really don’t want to indulge into the details of the exact story because I think that is part of what makes the film so much fun. If you don’t read too much on the film you will go in expecting another Woody Allen film and walk out amazed by what he manages to deliver. I’ve never really doubted him as a filmmaker, but at the same time I never really cared much for his films. The ones I’ve seen were all good, but never great until now. Midnight in Paris tells such a great story in such unique way.
The film stars Owen Wilson as the leading man, Gil. Gil is a writer, he mostly does gun for hire projects in Hollywood that he doesn’t really care about, but he doesn’t mind the money. He’s currently working on a book that is much more personal. He starts out the film with really only one relationship and that is between him and his soon to be wife Inez, played by the beautiful Rachel McAdams. Now Gil and Inez don’t always see eye to eye, but they come off as that two opposites attract type of couple. Within the first ten minutes of the film I kept asking myself why Gil even bothers with Inez. She’s not a bad woman at all but she really doesn’t fit his lifestyle and what he believes in.
The reason Gil and Inez are in Paris is because of Inez’s parents. They decided to tag alone with them as Inez’s father finishes a business deal. Gil is taken in by Paris almost instantly. He wants to move there and work on his writing and just enjoy the beauty of it all. He’s a really peaceful character that just wishes he lived in another time. It’s that feeling that carries the film. People are always wishing they were born a century earlier or even a decade and it isn’t until they realize that most people are never happy with what they have until it’s out of reach. A guy from the 1950’s wishes he grew up in the 1920’s, but then he talks to a guy from the 1920’s who wishes he grew up in the 1880’s.
It’s refreshing on how Woody Allen decides to tackle that problem with Gil’s character in the film and I really think if this film was in the hands of anyone else it would have fell pretty flat or came off way too silly, but Allen knows how to work very subtlety. He slowly eases you into Gil’s situation and as the film progresses Gil progresses as a character. You never question the things happening around him because quite honestly you don’t care. The more important thing is what Gil learns from all of this by having these relationships with several “characters”. Gil comes full circle with his life and he learns to appreciate what he has in this time. He realizes that it’s not about when you lived but more about how you live.
Owen Wilson really captures the role of Gil. I’ve never been a huge fan of his, but I never disliked him. He was always that actor that went good with others like Ben Stiller. I would always laugh more at Ben Stiller, but I still enjoyed Owen Wilson. It’s not until Midnight in Paris that I realized Owen Wilson can lead a film. He brings a wide range of emotion to the character and the best trait about him would be his sense of humor and delivery of jokes. I just loved how he awkwardly inserted facts and tidbits during their museum tours. I loved how he always came up with such odd explanations for things that were happening in the film. He felt like a genuinely likable guy that always means well.
Paris itself is also worth mentioning. I have never seen the city so beautiful before. Allen opens the film with some classical music and various shots of the city, with no dialogue or story progression, just a way to take in the whole city. It really helped establish the city itself as a central character of the film. It felt alive, always full of movement and exploration. The best shots were definitely at night and in the rain. Whenever the film would cut to midnight everything seemed to light up and take over the surroundings and then sadly it all calms down as the morning comes. I started to build up anticipation for the night, waiting for the next scene were Wilson would take his midnight stroll and things would get going again.
Overall, Woody Allen knocks it out of the park with Midnight in Paris. It’s a very soft film that deals with heavy emotions and thoughts that everyone thinks about at one point or another. Owen Wilson gives a very personal performance that is a bit of a surprise. The story is simple in formula and yet unique in its own way. The way Allen blends the gorgeous city of Paris into all of this is just icing on the cake. Midnight in Paris makes for a surprise hit of the summer that will hopefully draw all sorts of crowds, whether you’re into comedies, romantic films or just a generally warm hearted film with beautiful visuals. If you have any interest in seeing this film I strongly suggest you don’t look into too much detail, go in blind and enjoy it, you won’t be disappointed.
Midnight in Paris – 9/10