I remember watching this movie for the first time and falling asleep towards the end (I had come home from school and was tired as heck), the same way I had fallen asleep during the good part of Inception (towards the end) when I watched in the movie theater. Thankfully, I was wide awake when I decided to rewatch this movie (after finding out that Tom Hiddleston a.k.a. Loki from the Avengers… played a small part in it as literary great F. Scott Fitzgerald.. p.s. forgive my fan-girling), and I didn’t regret it one bit.
Midnight in Paris tells the story of Hollywood screenwriter Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) who travels to his ‘dream country’ whilst having a bit of trouble transitioning from writing scripts to writing a novel. He is joined by his fiance Ynez (Rachel McAdams) and her parents (played by Kurt Fuller and Mimi Kennedy). While trying to find his way home one midnight, he is suddenly plunged into the era which he idolizes: Paris in the twenties, and with this he meets some of the art and literary world’s biggest icons: Picasso, Salvador Dali (Adrian Brody), Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald among others. He also gets a surprising chance at love with a woman named Adriana (Marion Cotilliard), Picasso’s mistress who shares his opinions, yet has her own ideals about the golden age.
A lot of things are genuinely Oscar-worthy about this film, but I have to say that it isn’t really the acting. Owen Wilson does an okay yet not-so outstanding job which I wouldn’t necessarily consider forgettable… yet I consider it 100% real. I loved that he made me believe the fact that he was starstruck upon coming face-to-face with his literary idols, people that have been dead for centuries. The direction compliments him well and it allows not just for the story to really progress but for the audience to see Owen act at an optimum level. On the other hand, I wasn’t at all loving the character of Rachel McAdams, who seemed a little too unenthusiastic (or airheaded, I guess) to me. The character of pedantic Paul was another unlikable character who seemed too good to be true, or simply too good (for reality…). How is it that someone who seemed to echo the aura of an annoying prat could have enough credentials to lecture at the Sorbonne (forgive the spelling, if wrong)? Or maybe… Woody Allen was simply offering us a glimpse at what high academics are like, so that we, the not-so high academics could understand their personality… is that it? Nevertheless, Michael Sheen wasn’t a bad casting choice, nor was McAdams. Nina Arianda’s character, on the other hand, seemed to be quite a nuisance and acted more like a friend and less than a wife… perhaps a reflection of their marital woes? I don’t know.
That’s why I believe this movie runs not on it’s acting, but on it’s unique story. It’s the unrealistic-ness of it all that makes it so blissful. We see this ‘artist’ living the dream of any artist, and we enjoy that. Some would think of it as a form of fanfiction, and in a way, it is. Yet despite such an unrealistic and almost magical view of things, the theme of the movie is somewhat timely: we cannot always dream of living in an age that has passed, but reality will always come back to haunt us. In the movie, we see Gil face that reality, and what it does is implore us to live in our present and not always to yearn for a past that will never come back.
Overall, the film is not really deep, but the depth is something that doesn’t make Midnight in Paris mainstream. Unless you’re someone who’s at least a bit acquainted with some of the luminaries featured in the film, or you’re some sort of a Woody Allen buff, than maybe this will interest you. Yet I implore you to watch it still, even if you aren’t a Woody Allen buff or a bookworm. It’s not the greatest film in the world, nor would I consider it a mediocre work. It’s somewhere in between. But story-wise, the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay says it all. *Applause!*
P.S. I plan to go on an Oscar 2011 movie review marathon. Stay tuned (?) 😉