Allen key to Paris

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - EGuide Movies - Late in the evening, the past is a blast Now show­ing State and Vil­lage cine­mas

MID­NIGHT IN PARIS ( PG)

★★★★

Di­rec­tor: Woody Allen ( Vicky

Cristina Barcelona ) Stars: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Mar­ion Cotil­lard, Michael Sheen FILMED en­tirely on lo­ca­tion in Paris at the height of its fa­bled beauty, Woody Allen’s know­ingly sen­ti­men­tal love let­ter to the City of Light just never lets up with its ir­re­sistible charm.

Best de­scribed as some­thing of a fairy­tale for lovers of art, lit­er­a­ture and love it­self, Mid­night in Paris starts out as any other Allen com­edy might.

There’s a whiny male pro­tag­o­nist ( played by Owen Wilson) in a mild state of cri­sis. Ev­ery­one around him is reel­ing off their in­di­vid­ual neu­roses as if read­ing a shop­ping list. You know the drill.

But do not be put off by this less-than-promis­ing open­ing to pro­ceed­ings. Just hang in there as you first meet Gil ( Wilson), a hack Hol­ly­wood screen­writer hol­i­day­ing in the French cap­i­tal with his antsy fi­ance ( Rachel McAdams, both pic­tured) and her over­bear­ing par­ents.

Allen is clearly test­ing the pa­tience of his au­di­ence with the flat­ness of the movie’s first act. How­ever, just as you are about to give in to the ris­ing sense of dis­ap­point­ment in the room, some­thing truly won­der­ful hap­pens.

I’m hop­ing you are not al­ready fa­mil­iar with the sud­den gearchange that al­lows Mid­night in Paris to get very good, very quickly. Allen springs this sur­prise so ca­su­ally, so mat­ter-of-factly, that it only serves to heighten the magic that awaits.

So let’s be vague on the specifics, OK?

Late one night, Gil stum­bles upon a mirac­u­lous part of the city where a long-gone Paris he has al­ways nos­tal­gi­cally pined for sud­denly re­turns to life. This is the Paris of the 1920s and ’ 30s that be­came a mecca for cre­atives, ec­centrics and in­di­vid­u­als of all call­ings. As Gil con­tin­u­ally vis­its this un­ex­plained por­tal to an­other era, you will meet many of these fa­mous names as well.

Need a lit­tle more solid in­for­ma­tion to go on? Well, on his visit to the other side, Gil walks into a bar where Cole Porter is singing and play­ing his great­est hits, while the likes of F. Scott Fitzger­ald, Pablo Pi­casso and Ernest Hem­ing­way ami­ably bowl up and in­tro­duce them­selves.

Get­ting cu­ri­ous? So you should be by now.

Once its proper rhythm is found, Mid­night in Paris barely puts a foot wrong as a pol­ished and ut­terly plea­sur­able work of light en­ter­tain­ment.

The stun­ning cin­e­matog­ra­phy of Dar­ius Khondji (Se7en) would re­main a feast for the eyes even if the film had turned out to be a bust.

His assem­bly of a beau­ti­ful mon­tage of Parisian scenery that pre­cedes the open­ing cred­its sets the unique tone Allen is chas­ing to per­fec­tion.

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