Through the opulent Renaissance architecture, luscious beauty of nature, soothing rain and mesmerizing blend of ancient with contemporary, Midnight in Paris is a visual treat for everyone. The movie strikes a delightful chord in the beginning itself with a romantic portrayal of this beautiful city, standing out no less than a paradise on earth.
Midnight in Paris is certainly Woody Allen’s love letter to the ‘drop dead gorgeous’ city of Paris. With a theme based on past glory, grandeur and nostalgia, Paris provides the perfect setting for such a movie.
The protagonist of the movie Gil (Owen Wilson) is on a short trip to Paris with his fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her parents. By profession Gil is a scriptwriter in Hollywood but wants to make his mark as a writer. He is in complete awe of Ernest Hemmingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Mark Twain; he holds these writers of yesteryears in great reverence. Gil is nostalgic about the Paris of 1920s, bustling with connoisseurs of art, literature and music. His imagination is perceived as illusion and denial by Inez, her parents and friends. The character of Gil is honest, someone who wants to avoid the life of excess and finds Paris marvellous in rain.
While everyone thinks Gil has lost his mind because of his desire to be a writer, he never tries to explain his actions to others. He finds himself completely drawn to this charming city; the hub of all intellectual and artistic activity.
He is overwhelmed with joy and astonishment when one night he is transported to the Paris of 1920s where he meets eminent personalities like Ernest Hemmingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and the like. Woody Allen has brilliantly depicted the mystique, charm and glory of the bygone era without overdoing it. The background score complements every mood in the movie and only enriches the experience of watching Midnight in Paris.
Gil’s to and fro shift between past and present isn’t adventurous as Back to the Future. It is fulfilling and satisfying at the existential level. Even though he is nostalgic about past and his novel also touches on the same theme, he never expresses the desire to stay in past. This is apparently because of his understanding that living in past is nothing but existing in a state of denial. He opens up to fresh perspectives not only in terms of his novel but also his personal life.
Owen Wilson has done a decent job as Gil and Rachel McAdams as Inez is fine. It’s Marion Cotillard as Adriana (Picasso’s mistress), Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein, and Allison Pill as Zelda Fitzgerald who have done a remarkable work by getting under the skin of their respective character.
Midnight in Paris is my first Woody Allen movie and it has cast a good impression with its seamless treatment of the subject of nostalgia. More than that he has made it impossible not to fall in love with Paris.