Review: Midnight In Paris

Directed by: Woody Allen

Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen, Kathy Bates, Tom Hiddleston, Marion Cotillard, Adrien Brody.

Rating: 12A  Running Time: 94 Mins

I’ve never been a fan of Woody Allen, largely due to his acting style which I find has a similar effect on me to a cheese grater. Due to this I have generally avoided his movies, even those that he only directed instead of starred in. Thankfully, he stays behind the camera for his latest, Midnight In Paris.

In the movie, Owen Wilson plays Gil, a hollywood screenwriter who wishes to leave writing for movies behind and instead work on writing a novel, while on vacation with his fiancé (Rachel McAdams) and her parents in Paris. Romanticised by the experience and feeling a sense of nostalgia for the city’s history, he mulls over the possibility of moving there to live permenantly. One evening, to avoid spending an evening with an old friend of his fiancé, Gil takes a walk alone through the city and winds up lost, uncertain how to get back to the hotel. As a nearby clock strikes midnight, a car pulls up and he is invited by the occupants to get in and join them as they head to a club. Gil decides to join them, embarking on a strange journey that will allow him to investigate his nostalgia for the city and re-evaluate his life.

To go any further in detail would be to spoil a major plot element, which is something that really should be experienced in the movie for it’s full effect. At first the plot sounds like it could have been the setup for a typical horror movie, or a Hangover type comedy, but this movie is a drama with a twist, and sticks to that genre, even at times shunning another genre that it encroaches on.

On his journey, Owen’s character encounters several characters played by a well known cast of actors including Kathy Bates, Tom Hiddleston, Marion Cotillard and Adrien Brody, some of which are only briefly in the movie, but all give exceptional performances. Owen though, with his character initially not believing what is happening and is then shocked when he realises what is going on, has much more material to work on. His character finally accepts things, finding himself torn emotionally between two situations. His performance is among his better acting performances in a serious role, but at the point he initially starts to realise the truth of his situation, his performance seems somewhat lacking, almost like he’s on a bad acid induced trip with a huge side helping of prozac, which for the lead character, I found most distracting, though it’s hard to tell if this is the fault of Owen or the fault of Allen’s writing and/or direction. I can’t imagine that I or anyone else would be so calm in that situation.

There’s also the ludicrous nature of the trips , as Gil returns to the steps where the car turned up the next night, only for it to turn up again, and his gladly getting back into the car for more than one subsequent journeys without sign of any rational thinking on his part. The movie does however make a very good point about nostalgia, and about the way that we perceive the world we live in, I have to admit that Allen has come up with a movie that while not entirely original (I won’t mention the movies that it references, so as to avoid spoilers, but i can think of three off the top of my head), does have a sense of originality about it, which is an impressive rarity.

Overall the movie makes for a rather enjoyable yet slightly numbing experience due to what feels like an incomplete ending. I believe some of an age above 25-30 will find charming and relatable, but the majority of those nearer it’s 12A rating may find it overly nostalgic and even consider it to be dull. As a 33 year old viewer though, I found it a pleasent viewing experience for the 94 minutes run time, and as someone who doesn’t like Woody Allen movies, that can only be a good thing.

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Posted on October 10, 2011, in Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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