Allen key to Paris
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.