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.
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