Drenched in wits and irrefutably charming, no other film had ever made me fall so deeply in love with Paris besides Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. The film succeed so not through conventional cheesy methods but rather allowed history and culture to paint an alluring canvas rich of art and beauty. At times insanely astonishing in dialogue, this romantic comedy is a fresh offering of comedy that waltzes about Romanticism.
This is a romantic comedy set in Paris about a family that goes there because of business, and two young people who are engaged to be married in the fall have experiences there that change their lives. It's about a young man's great love for a city, Paris, and the illusion people have that a life different from theirs would be much better. It stars Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates, Carla Bruni, among others.
The film commenced itself proper with the image above, after a somewhat lengthy opening montage sequence of Paris from day to night.
One that could hardly be faulted by anybody.
Seemingly of a happy ending image where a couple embraced with their lips locked by a water-lily logged pond, what could be wrong with this picture? I had the very same notion in mind upon sight of Gill (Owen Wilson) and Inez's (Rachel McAdams) act of love, which could potentially translate into the questioning of Woody Allen's competency as one of the most revered master filmmakers today.
But it didn't. And I was ashamed of having that thought in mind.
A romantic comedy that began with an image that says "Happy Ending" blatantly, things wouldn't be that simple in an Allen's film. Witty dialogues began to fill in soon enough, albeit with a slow-warming effect. The mundane first third might had been void of Allen's signature but it served well as an effective character introduction and a speedy build up to the true essence of the film.
When the clock struck midnight in Paris.
What I can't divulge at this moment is the happenings that follow right after, preventing potential spoilers that would really spoil the film for anybody. So if you intend to watch the film with an open mind (which I highly and seriously recommend for your optimal viewing satisfaction), kindly refrain from proceeding further and skip till after the spoilers.
**Potential Spoilers Ahead**
Allen created Gill as a hopeless Romantic who aspires to be a prolific writer, who faced a great deal of negative support from the people around him. Including his wife-to-be Inez, who's played by the apt McAdams. I seriously can't see anyone else taking over her role as Inez, McAdams appeared to perfect as the uninspired Inez who held high regards for any man who boasted a logical knowledge bank.
Knowledge may empower people but doesn't enrich people necessarily.
Looking at how the film suddenly shifts its gear into the unexplained time-travel main plot, we don't feel the single bit disturbed by the unannounced and unapologetic chronological rewind into the era of 1920s. Maybe a little time required for adopting to the change, but it soon became magical and mesmerising.
Full of the "Golden Age" atmosphere where jazz and glamour took centrestage of the nightlife and beyond in Paris, Allen created a whole new dimension after midnight. Hanging out with the classic literary figures with the likes of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemmingway, Gill soon becomes Alice in Wonderland.
Subsequent nights see Gill returning to the same spot at midnight where he would engage other prominent figures - artists and auteurs of various mediums. Pablo Picasso, Man Ray, Luis Buñuel, and the very interesting Salvador Dalí (played by the amazing Adrien Brody), these may be artists who may not have been Parisians by birth but eventually hanged out in Paris "where the coolest people reside".
There's a reason why these remarkable icons chose Paris and Allen capitalised upon it and wielded it as a weapon to make Paris an appealing place to his audience. History and culture complemented the art and beauty so well that I felt genuinely enticed to visit Paris just because I was introduced to a whole new perspective by Allen's film.
Ultimately, the film was smart in ushering us to its main take home point of our endless discontentment with the current and constant yearning for the past. The grass is always greener and it's a senseless endless pursuit of an empty entity of desire. Gill said in the film, "the current is unsatisfying because life itself is unsatisfying".
**End of Potential Spoilers**
It is also truly a great blessing for Allen to have so many competent actors to play the various roles so well in synergy to his well-written screenplay. Notable performance from Owen Wilson, Corey Stoll, Alison Pill, Kathy Bates, Marion Cotillard and several others were spotted in appreciation.
Not only is this a great film that captured the essence of the past and current, it is also one that truly captivates the beauty of the French capital with its fresh take on the romantic comedy genre.