Midnight In Paris
Faulkner’s quote that ’the past is not dead, it’s not even past’ has never rung so simplistically and true in this romantic comedy fantasy drama written and directed by Woody Allen. Midnight in Paris explores some of city’s golden eras as frustrated Hollywood writer and wannabe novelist Gil wanders the Left Bank at midnight, but when Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald pull over in an antique car and invite him to a party, Gil’s nostalgic fantasies are a dream made true.
Transported back in time to 1920’s Paris after being picked up by the famous novelist, Gil is introduced to a range of artistic icons from the era. His purported midnight strolls have Allen resurfacing the magical side of his mind that conjured up The Purple Rose of Cairo and Zelig. The physics of time travel are overlooked, with only a simple gateway to the past of Paris that could be uncovered by anyone – should they take a moment to discover it. Instead it’s purely used as a road to a fantastic, yet surreal adventure.
From Fitzgerald to Hemmingway and Picasso to Dali great icons of the era wander the screen surrounded by an electrifying atmosphere. These great figures however are trapped in the narrative by cliché. Chiming out their most famous quotes and referencing their most famous work, naive of the effect their work will eventually have on the world. This is where Allen’s prowess as a comedian comes into play.
There’s often a very personal relationship between Woody Allen and his protagonists and Owen Wilson does very well with his portrayal of Allen. Though he lacks the stutter of a rambling Allen, and the Jewish/ New York twang, his mannerisms resemble him well. Awkward walks, hands in pockets and plenty of hand expression remind you of those awkward yet charming characters we learned to love in Annie Hall and Manhattan. Wilson expands on this however, developing his own variation with a much more relaxed attitude.
Like New York, Allen deeply romanticises the location. His presentation of Paris harks back to the way New York was shown in Manhattan and Barcelona in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Allen develops a charm on screen that screams out from each street. His eye for beauty is so intricate you sense he could make Slough appear as the world’s most attractive destination.
With each era damning its own, it appears everyone wishes to belong to the generation before them. Ultimately, the honest message conveyed is to ‘thrive in the present’ with Allen berating that Nostalgia is a form of denial.
Wonderful performances across the board allow Allen to make this charming and light hearted nostalgic trip an experience to be enjoyed.