Writer and Director Woody Allen’s latest film, Midnight in Paris, is a real gem. Part love letter to the city of light, part treatise on the futility of nostalgia and longing, and part classic Allen fare, this film delivers near perfection. A stellar cast led by Owen Wilson and Rachael McAdams hold their own against picture-postcard scenery and a time-travel plotline that might have sunk any other director. It’s possible that Allen has found the perfect replacement for himself on film with Wilson, who works his neurosis with just the right comedic charm, all while navigating a unique problem that no one else can see or understand.
While complicated relationships and comedic misunderstandings are the stock in trade of Allen’s films, oftentimes the mixture does not quite click, and deliver what we were hoping for. Midnight in Paris is truly a return to form not seen from the director in quite some time. I was reminded of some of my favorite Allen films. While lacking in the broad slapstick of Sleeper and Take the Money and Run, the mental high jinks and odd circumstances were spot-on in Paris.
Wilson portrays Gil, a talented and successful screenwriter who is struggling to finish his first novel. While in Paris with his fiancé Inez (McAdams,) he stumbles into an odd time travel device (a beautiful 1920’s Peugeot) that drops him squarely into one of Paris’ golden eras, complete with the artistic giants of the time. What would you say to Earnest Hemmingway, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso and Cole Porter if you had the chance? Gil attempts to juggling his nightly jaunts through time with his relationship including skeptical future in-laws and an annoying know it all rival Paul (a wonderful Michael Sheen). In love with both the city and the idea of a different era, Gil must sort out his feelings and decide what path to take.
Excellent supporting roles include Kathy Bates (Stein), Corey Stoll (Hemmingway) and Marion Coitillard, as the artistic muse Adriana. They all tackle the tough assignment of portraying artistic legends with great sincerity and style. Yes, Hemmingway must have been a piece of work, but it would be great to see him in action and to hear Cole Porter belting out classics at the piano.
Midnight in Paris recently became Woody Allen’s highest grossing film, and its no wonder as positive word of mouth and critical praise are heaped its way. In a summer filled with the usual offerings, there is also room for well-written, casted, acted and directed films that engage and entertain.
Midnight in Paris is at Cinemark Cinemas at El Con Mall, 3601 E. Broadway Boulevard. For showtimes visits Cinemark.com.