Midnight In Paris – Film Review

The past is a foreign country

Release Date: 7 October 2011
PG | 94 minutes
Distributor: Warner Bros
Woody Allen
Cast: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen, Carla Bruni, Kathy Bates, Tom Hiddleston, Marion Cotillard, Adrien Brody

Woody Allen in SFX? Yes indeed, because Midnight In Paris is a time-travel drama. Well, sort of.

Owen Wilson, he of the crooked grin and crooked nose, is Gil, a Hollywood screenwriter attempting his first novel, visiting Paris with his fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams). One night, a little worse for drink, he accepts an invitation from a group of friendly folk in an old-fashioned car and finds himself back in the Paris of the 1920s. He’s soon partying with F Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Cole Porter, Luis Bunuel, TS Eliot and others. And then he meets the lovely Adriana (Marion Cotillard)…

Back in the present the following day he fails to convince a sceptical Inez about his trip, and it becomes increasingly clear that the pair aren’t suited. That night he decides to try and head back in time once more. Could it be that’s where his true love lies?

Gil, who resembles a less neurotic version of the character Allen himself used to play, is someone who lives in the past, full of nostalgia for an era he never actually experienced. But then when he does, literally, live in the past, he discovers much about himself, and life.

Our Reviews Editor discourages the use of the word “nice” in SFX, but this is a nice film, a very nice film. It’s light, it’s mild, it’s exceedingly pleasant. It’s Allen’s love letter to the French capital and him having fun with artistic giants of yesteryear, while drawing on the brighter outlook he’s come round to in recent years. It certainly seems to have paid off, as the movie has gone on to become Woody’s biggest in many a year (including, not surprisingly, selling lots of tickets in France – they love him there anyway and this won’t change that).

Largely undemanding – but with witty, esoteric asides alluding to the famous creatives – Midnight In Paris radiates positivity with its call to live life to the full and in the now. And that can’t be a bad thing.

Russell Lewin