I don’t often watch romantic comedies. If I want comedy, I’ll watch something with Will Ferrell and if I want romantic, I’ll re-watch Romeo & Juliet – again. But ‘Midnight in Paris’ had a bit of a different stance on the ol’ rom-com genre. (It also has Owen Wilson as the lead. He’s always in Wes Anderson films, which are also on my ‘comedy’ list)
‘Midnight in Paris’ is set in modern day, well…Paris. Gil (Owen Wilson) and his fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams), are on holiday with Inez’s wealthy, conservative parents, who can’t really stand the food, art or anything else about France, a view completely opposite to Gil’s. Gil, a successful Hollywood screenwriter, is using his time in Paris to work on his first book, a novel about a man who works in a nostalgia shop. He’s inspired by the romanticism of Paris and wishes more than anything, that he could have lived there in the 20s. Inez shares his love of the art in Paris, but it ends there. And to top it off, she’d rather spend her time being told about said art by Paul (Michael Sheen), a wannabe intellectual who pretends to know what he’s talking about, but actually knows next-to-nothing (we all know someone like Paul). One night, Inez goes out dancing with Paul and his wife, while Gil get’s drunk and lost on the streets. He sits down to figure it all out when an old 20s car pulls up, with none other than Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Gil finally gets his dream of being in Paris in the 20s, where he encounters greats such as Picasso, Hemingway, Salvador Dali, Man Ray, Cole Porter, Josephine Baker and Gertrude Stein. He continues to return to the same spot each night to be transported to a world that teaches him about living in the present and difference between fantasy and reality.
Written and directed by Woody Allen, ‘Midnight in Paris’ is more than your standard formulaic rom-com. The comedy is well written and witty, the storyline is gripping and you’re constantly trying to figure out what could possible happen in the end to make everyone happy and the scenery and costume design is stunning. At this point, I really don’t to be like Paul, the pseudo-intellectual. I didn’t know all the characters from the 20s and found quite a bit of the humor lost on me. I heard people in the cinema having a good giggle because that’s exactly what the history books say about so-and-so. I did some research when I got home (on Wiki, not the history books) and could see that Woody had constructed some very clever dialogue around these characters. I just wish I’d known this beforehand.
Having said that, I still found ‘Midnight in Paris’ an breath of fresh rom-com. I laughed and ohhed and ahhed in the right places and left just the way I should have, wanting to hold my husband’s hand (eew – I know). If you love the 20s or have done a Bachelor of Arts with a bunch of history papers, you’ll get the humor and thoroughly enjoy it. If you haven’t but would still like to see it, do your research.
On a final note, I am still convinced the the film is lacking a certain ‘je nais se quoi’. I have been trying to figure it out for ages now, but if you see the film and can put your finger on it, please let me know. It would make me feel a lot more settled about it.
Reviewed by: Nerice