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Movie Review: Midnight in Paris

June 3, 2011

Midnight in Paris – A Sony Pictures Classics’ Release

http://www.sonyclassics.com/midnightinparis/

Release Date: June 3rd, 2011

Rated PG for mature theme

Running time: 94 minutes

Woody Allen (dir.)

Woody Allen (writer)

Cole Porter (music)

Owen Wilson as Gil

Rachel McAdams as Inez

Kurt Fuller as John

Mimi Kennedy as Helen

Michael Sheen as Paul

Marion Cotillard as Adriana

Yves Heck as Cole Porter

Tom Hiddleston as F. Scott Fitzgerald

Alison Pill as Zelda Fitzgerald

Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway

Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein

Adrien Brody as Salvador Dalí

© 2011 Mediapro, Versátil Cinema & Gravier Productions, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.  Photo by Roger Arpajou.

Left to Right: Gil (Owen Wilson) and Inez (Rachel McAdams) in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.

Our reviews below:

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Midnight in Paris Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

Woody Allen’s 41st film as a director, Midnight in Paris is an appealing piece of classy entertainment that often plays as escapist fantasy for our romantic sensibilities.  The legendary Allen has been somewhat off his game in the last few years, and this is easily among the best of his modern work.  The charming script is free of the cynicism that has plagued some of his more recent films, yet still delivers the sort of sharp social commentary that has made him famous over the years.

Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) is a romanticist and struggling novelist, vacationing in France with his beautiful but shallow fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams).  He dreams of giving up his job as a Hollywood screenwriter and moving to Paris.  But she sides with her uptight parents (Kurt Fuller & Mimi Kennedy) who can’t stand the idea of living in France, especially in the rain.  To make matters worse, Inez’s college boyfriend Paul (Michael Sheen) is also visiting the country, and the pompous pseud-intellectual is trying to upstage Gil at every turn.  The socially awkward situations that develop between the two are a delight to watch.

But Gil is taking solace in a different sort of vacation.  Every evening at midnight, he takes a mysterious walk through the streets of Paris, getting into a car and being transported back to the 1920’s.  Hanging out with such literary idols as Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston) and Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), he finds new inspiration for his own nostalgic writing, and is even able to give filmmaking suggestions to Luis Bunuel (Adrien de Van).  Finding a possible romantic interest in Adriana (Marion Cotillard), Gil must decide whether to return to the present or stay where things are supposedly better in the past.

The performances of the leading and supporting cast are all uniformly excellent, with Owen Wilson front and centre as he perfectly embodies a charming version of the Woody Allen persona.  On the other hand, Michael Sheen captures just the right amount of smarm as he plays an irritating character who’s often entertaining to watch.  The iconic artists that we meet in the past are all brilliantly played, with Adrian Brody getting the single funniest scene in a brief and memorable appearance as Salvador Dali.

Right from the opening scene, we know this is going to be one of Woody Allen’s most charming and romantic modern films.  The cinematography is beautiful, many scenes are set to a wonderful score of jazz classics, and the screenplay is filled with little surprises that make us laugh and almost always ring true to real life.  In the end, Midnight in Paris is a romantic fantasy that takes place between past and present, and a film that’s impossible not to fall in love with.  That’s the magic of France, but also of a great movie.

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Midnight in Paris Review by Erin V.  

**** (out of 4)

In Midnight in Paris, Owen Wilson plays Gil, a successful screenwriter – but feeling stuck doing Hollywood rewrites for mediocrity.  What he wants is to become a novelist, and Paris is his inspiration.  On a trip to Paris with his fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams), he realizes that unlike her, it’s his dream to move there permanently after their wedding.  Meanwhile, he finds himself drifting apart from Inez, as she spends more time with Paul (Michael Sheen), an old friend of her’s who is also in Paris for a conference.

Taking a walk alone one night to soak in the Parisian atmosphere, at precisely midnight an old 1920’s car comes driving by and he is invited in by the passengers.  What happens next he finds hard to believe, as when he gets out, he is in the time of F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston), Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), and other such great figures from history.  As he lives in the 1920’s by night and 2010 by day, he starts to reevaluate his life and who he wants to be.

I think we’ve all at one time or another, no matter how briefly, felt like we might have fit into another time better.  A decade that we consider ‘the golden age’ to be in.  And that’s what I found made Midnight in Paris so appealing – and will be universally.  With excellent acting work by Owen Wilson and the supporting cast, all working with a sharply-written script, this is a true return to form for Woody Allen.  One of the best of the year, go check this one out.

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Midnight in Paris Review by Nicole

**** (out of 4)

If you could go back in time, when would you go to?  Where would you go and who would you meet?  In Midnight in Paris, Gil (Owen Wilson) is an American screenwriter visiting Paris with his fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams).  Gil has always loved the 1920’s, and has admired the great writers and artists of the time.  His dreams of meeting his literary idols come true at midnight, when a time machine in the guise of an old car takes him back to the 1920’s.

Gil encounters many historical greats, including Hemingway (Corey Stoll), F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston) and Picasso (Marcial Di Fonzo Bo), to name a few.  He also meets a beautiful and mysterious woman, Adrianna (Marion Cotillard) whom he falls in love with.  Caught between two women and two eras, Gil eventually discovers who he is and where he belongs.

Midnight in Paris is a charming, delightful and classy work of art.  Owen Wilson is sweet and funny as usual, and I also really liked how the historical figures play an important role in Gil’s life.  Along with Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Picasso, there are also funny moments with Adrian Brody as Dali and Vincent Menjou Cortes as Toulouse-Lautrec.  Everything about this movie worked perfectly.  The music, visuals and the witty story all tie together nicely into a modern classic that you don’t want to miss.

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Midnight in Paris Review by Maureen

**** (out of 4)

Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris is both a love letter to and a postcard from the beautiful city.  Right from the opening scenes with all the familiar Paris landmarks armed with a saxophone score, the film has a classy and refreshing feel to it.  Maybe it’s the romantic in me, but I fell in love with Midnight in Paris.

Owen Wilson plays Gil, an American screenwriter visiting Paris with his more shallow fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her parents (Kurt Fuller & Mimi Kennedy).  Gil is delighted to be soaking up the sights and drawing inspiration for the novel he hopes to write.  Inez is more interested in hanging out with her American friends, Paul (Michael Sheen) and Carol (Nina Arianda).  Paul is somewhat of a pompous know-it-all who Gil can only take for so long.  So he decides to head out on his own for midnight strolls around Paris.  On one of his walks, Gil is approached by a group of partyers in a 1920’s car.  He gets in and his trip to the era he always romanticized begins.

The charm of Midnight in Paris lie in the wonderful reinvention of the 1920’s.  On his midnight jaunts Gil spends time with Hemingway (Corey Stoll), Picasso (Marcial Di Fonzo Bo), Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston & Allison Pill), Cole Porter (Yves Heck), Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates) and a beautiful French woman named Adrianna (Marion Cotillard).  His time in the past changes him and when he returns to the present come daybreak he comes to discover what’s really important to him.  His life can never be the same.

This is charming, sweet and funny without resorting to cheap laughs or clichés.  The dialogue is fresh, the acting is excellent, the music from the 1920’s fits perfectly and the cinematography is lovely.  Woody Allen has created a wonderful piece of entertainment in Midnight in Paris, and it’s my favourite movie so far in 2011.  Take time for a little bit of romance and visit Midnight in Paris.  Even if it’s raining, your spirits will be lifted.

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Midnight in Paris Review by Tony

**** (out of 4)

Gil (Owen Wilson) is a successful writer of mediocre Hollywood scripts visiting Paris with his fiancée Inez ((Rachel McAdams) and her parents. He is increasingly uncomfortable with their right-wing bourgeois values, especially when they run into her know-it-all ex-boyfriend Paul (Michael Sheen) in whom Inez had obviously never lost interest. Leaving Inez with Paul and his current companion, Gil goes out on his own to wander the streets to find inspiration for his first novel. When the clock strikes midnight, he is whisked away to the 1920s, meeting such American expats as the Fitzgeralds (Tom Hiddleston and Alison Pill), Hemingway (Corey Stoll) and Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), and various artists including Picasso and Dali (Adrien Brody). Marion Cotillard appears as Adriana, the lover and muse of several artists of the time, under whose spell Gil also finds himself. Gil has to decide between staying in the past or simply letting it inspire his future, with or without Inez.

Ever since the American suits stopped offering Woody Allen complete creative control, he has made most of his films offshore, with Midnight in Paris the first set in France and arguably one of the best, at least since Vicky Cristina Barcelona. The script is as witty as any Allen has written and the cast is all excellent, particularly Wilson and Sheen. Beginning with various Paris street scenes reminiscent of the opening of Manhattan, it is beautiful to watch and the musical score featuring Hot Club style jazz is a perfect accompaniment to the action.

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Consensus:  With excellent leading work from Owen Wilson and an equally strong supporting cast, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris is filled with beautiful cinematography of France and plays as smart, classy and irresistible entertainment from beginning to end.  **** (Out of 4)

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 5, 2011 1:52 pm

    SPOILER ALERT:

    Who was the actress from whom Gil bought the old Cole Porter record and with whom he ended the movie on the bridge?

    Like

    • July 5, 2011 4:37 pm

      According to IMDb, Gabrielle – the character who sells him the Cole Porter record – is played by the young French actress Léa Seydoux, who also had small roles in Inglourious Basterds and Robin Hood. We would have included her name at the top, but Midnight in Paris ultimately has such an amazingly large cast that it is hard to keep track of them all.

      Hope this helps and thanks for reading!

      -John C.

      Like

  2. January 15, 2012 6:16 pm

    Great review(s)! Woody Allen’s ode to the city of love is brilliant. Check out my review and let me know what you think!
    http://burdseyeviews.com/2012/01/15/midnight-in-paris-2011/

    Like

    • January 15, 2012 7:08 pm

      Agreed – Woody Allen’s “talent is indisputable” and Midnight in Paris is one of his best modern films.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your review!

      -John C.

      Like

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