Sunday, July 3, 2011

Movie Review: Midnight in Paris

Rating: 4 Stars

Review: Last weekend, we decided to go see Midnight in Paris, starring Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams.  The concept intrigued us, but we were not sure if we would enjoy the movie, especially since we primarily watch British period dramas. Fortunately, we were pleasantly surprised.

Midnight in Paris opens with stunning and crisp vignettes of Paris. Within the first five minutes, I had added this European city to my future travel list.  We were expecting a serious drama, but there are both quirky and comical elements to this fantasy/romantic comedy film, which make it addictive and unique.  Gil (Wilson) is an inspiring American author on vacation in Paris with his fiance, Inez, (McAdams) and her family.  While Gil is a somewhat bumbling dreamer, Inez is an in-control realist.  As a result, they have diverging views on how to best experience Paris. 

Gil dreams of seeing Paris in the rain and living in the past.  To his surprise, a midnight walk takes him back to Paris in the roaring 1920s, where he meets literary and artistic greats, including F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Gertrude Stein.  The movie transitions from Paris night-life in the 20s to the modern city. Through his mystical time travels, Gil learns about himself, his craft, and his dreams.

Gil's character was slightly silly and awkward, and offers many of the comedic moments of the movie. Despite that, we definitely related to his desire to experience life in what he considers an "ideal" time.  My sister and I are often guilty of romanticising the past and not appreciating the present or future.  The lesson that Gil learned from his travels resonated with us. No time period is perfect, and the challenges and letdowns that we all face, past and present, shape the future.

The portrayals of icons like Fizgerald and Hemmingway added a special flavor to the movie, which we greatly enjoyed.  The supporting characters were a "Who's Who" line-up of past greats. We confess that though we had heard most of the names before, we were not readily familiar with each person's works or life. So, we came home and researched.  Thanks to Midnight in Paris, we have a bit more knowledge of the colorful individuals who shaped the 1920's in America, Paris, and beyond.

We highly recommend Midnight in Paris.  The trailer below, does not completely capture the charm and character of the movie, but it does provide a good sample of the scenery and some of the quirkiness.

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