24 October 2011

Review of Woody Allen's 'Midnight In Paris'

Psst! If you don't fancy a non-makeup related post you can head straight to this earlier NOTD!

Am I the only one who didn’t enjoy Midnight In Paris? I had such high hopes: I love the city, and I’m as intoxicated by the Paris of today as I am by the Paris of the 20s.

But the modern day Paris of the film is not the modern day Paris that I know and love. A whirl of 5 star hotels, expensive restaurants and furniture shops, it could be any city in the world. The montage of Parisian street scenes from the film’s opening is really as much as we get to see of the real Paris of today.

As for the basic premise of the film, well, I’m not opposed to fantasy, but this felt more like farce. I just didn’t buy it. To me, this is a film that has overshot the bounds of whimsy to land in the realm of the twee (much like Scottish indie band Belle and Sebastian, who it seems I am also alone in not rating). Owen Wilson plays the Woody Allen character,  Gil, a Hollywood scriptwriter on holiday with his fiancĂ© Inez (played by Rachel McAdams) and her parents. The trip highlights the differences between Gil and Inez as the city reignites his dreams of writing a novel.

One of the main problems for me is the relationship between Inez and Gil, which is unbelievable throughout. She’s awful, her parents are intolerable and her mate Paul deserves a good slap. It’s testament to how irritating I found the rest of the modern-day cast that I actually warmed to Owen Wilson’s character, when the man normally makes me want to scratch my eyes out.  

(I also found myself highly irritated by the way Inez wears her belts, slung below her stomach in a way that actually manages to be unflattering to McAdam’s beautiful physique. But that’s an aside.)

Being surrounded by such dreadful human beings, it’s no wonder that Gil wants to leave it all behind, and luckily thanks the magic of an antique cab, he can –- at least for a while. He finds himself transported to the glittering bohemian Paris of the Jazz Age, where he meets a tremendous cast of historical characters who are the real stars of the film.

I’d like to have seen much, much more of the Fitzgerald’s, of Hemingway, of Gertrude Stein (played wonderfully, and believably, by Kathy Bates) and Dali et al, and this perhaps was the problem. All of the humour and charm stemmed from these characters and I felt sad every time we switched from the past back to the preposterous present.  

On the whole I found the film unsatisfying and I left feeling a bit irritated, but also with a firm resolve to read the rest of the work of Hemingway and the Fitzgerald’s, and whatever else I can about their lives.  My fascination with them continues unabated, while I’m done with Woody Allen, for good this time.

Review after review tells me I’m on my own with this, so I suggest you go and see it for yourself. Like everyone else, I’m sure you’ll love it.


cornflakegirl said...

I adore Woody Allen, actually that should be I adore vintage Woody Allen (Manhattan, Annie Hall etc.) but I have't liked most of his recent stuff (don't even get me started on Match Point though I did like Vicky Christina Barcelona - eh, kinda). I might just wait for this one to come out on DVD cos I'd hate to waste a trip to the cinema and be disappointed again.

Oh and you're not alone cos some friends of mine saw it and didn't like it either...their review is the main reason I'm waiting for the DVD.

PS: I love Belle & Sebastian.

Dena said...

I watched it on a flight home from my holidays recently and absolutely hated it.

I thought the characters had zero chemistry with each other. Owen Wilson just came across as a slightly mental puppy-man-hybrid. Most characters were more caricature than character too. I didn't think there was anything to warm to in any of it really.

Chris said...

Another gratuitous dig at Belle and Sebastian! You just can't help yourself, can you?

fluff and fripperies said...

@Paula, Dena, yay! I'm not alone. I really was starting to think that everyone in the whole wide world is in love with this film, except me.

@Chris, no. I can't.

little t said...

I've been dying to see it since it came out but haven't seen it yet. I'v only heard good things about it til now...

MissGreenEyes said...

Can't stand Woody Allen or Owen Wilson, both make me want to repeatedly smack my head off the nearest wall.

Don't think I'll be seeing this one :-)

fluff and fripperies said...

MissGreenEyes, it's definitely not for you but Thelma don't let me put you off going to see it, like I said most people seem to love it!

Anonymous said...

The story didn't work. Owen Wilson was so empty of emotion. Going back further in time at the end just turned it into a farce.