Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Midnight in Paris

I'm not one of those film snobs who thinks Woody Allen is a comic genius, but, well, he is a comic genius.  His films are almost without exception funny, entertaining, touching, and on a higher plane than the typical mainstream comedy film.  In Midnight in Paris, Owen Wilson plays a young Woody Allen.  OK, he actually plays Gil, a screenwriter who wants to be a novelist, but the character and Wilson's portrayal perfectly capture the Woody Allen from his earlier films: whiny, struggling with his identity, insecure, but funny and lovable.

A night on the town with Gil's literary heroes.
While on vacation in Paris with his fiance and her parents, Gil fantasizes about what he considers the golden age of Paris, the 1920s, where Picasso, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, and other luminaries interacted.  The clock strikes midnight, and he's transported to that time, meets his heroes, and even gets Gertrude Stein to read his manuscript.  His nightly forays into the past increasingly distance him from his fiance and deepen his love for the city of lights.
I have no love for Paris, and have always scorned those who romanticize the city.  But Midnight in Paris invokes a longing for a city I've only visited briefly, a nostalgia for a time about which I know little, transcending time and place for a reflection on contentment, idealization of the past, and making the most of your present. 

Bottom line, 3 1/2 stars.

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