Midnight In Paris

You've heard it before, but this time it's true - It's Woody Allen's Return To Form!™

 

4 stars

 

 

Director: Woody Allen

Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody

 

Midnight In Paris

For the past decade and a half every new Woody Allen film, at some point, has been declared a 'return to form' for the auteur of anxiety. However, despite the qualified successes of films such as Match Point and Vicky Cristina Barcelona, these predictions have ultimately proven hollow.

 

It therefore comes as something of a shock to report that Allen's latest release, Midnight in Paris, really is the return to form that many of us have long hoped for, but never really believed would arrive.

 

After the sombre and airless stories of his most recent work, Midnight finds Allen returning to the more whimsical and magical realist strand of film making that he's frequently indulged in during his long career. With a central hook that owes more than a nod to the director's The Purple Rose of Cairo and his own short story, The Kugelmass Episode, this latest offering ploughs classic Allen territory with a wit, charm and lightness of touch that hasn't been seen onscreen in a very long time.

 

Midnight In Paris

Following Hollywood screenwriter/frustrated novelist Gil (Owen Wilson) and his fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) as they visit the French capital on holiday, Midnight finds this romantic dreamer lost after dark in the back alleys of the city and transported back to the Paris of the 1920s.

 

Left to explore his own personal Golden Age of culture, Gil gets to hang out with such leading lights of the period as F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston), Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates) and Salvador Dali (Adrien Brody).

 

It's also while in this veritable dream world that Gil begins to fall for artists muse, Adriana (Marion Cotillard). Naturally, this begins to complicate his life in the present, but also shows Gil that he's on the wrong path and needs to make changes to truly be happy.

 

Midnight In Paris

Featuring not only his sharpest script since Sweet & Lowdown (1999), Midnight in Paris also features the most effective casting and sympathetic performances in an Allen picture for a very long time. Owen Wilson, in particular, is superb as Gil and is easily the best Allen surrogate since John Cusack in Bullets of Broadway (1994).

 

Wilson manages to bring an innocence, charm and accessibility to Allen's trademark neuroticism, which allows audiences into the movie in a way that perhaps has been missing from Allen's work for some time.

 

However, as good as Wilson is, the standout performance in the film belongs to French Oscar winner, Marion Cotillard. Her turn as Adriana is key to the films succes,s as she makes this almost picture book world of historical figures seem at once more tangible, and less idyllic, than Gil's 'stranger in a strange land' naivety allows.

 

Midnight In Paris

Gorgeously shot by cinematographer Darius Khondji and lovingly designed by Anne Seibel, everything about this picture eschews the slightly slap-dash, tone- deaf approach to film making that has typified Allen's most recent output.

 

Whilst not harking back to Allen's personal Golden Age of film making in the 70s, this charming and beguiling soufflé of a movie is both a welcome relief and a pleasant surprise, which delivers far more wit, wisdom and whimsy than perhaps you'd expect.

 

Sitting comfortably alongside such later works as Deconstructing Harry, Mighty Aphrodite and Everyone Says I Love You, it's nice to have the real Woody Allen back in cinemas once again. It's been far too long.

 

James Peaty

 

 

Trailer. Below. See.

 

 

Midnight In Paris
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FACT YOU!

Pam Grier in Jackie Brown

Pam Grier, AKA Jackie Brown, once lived in one of the most beautiful towns in England. "I lived in Swindon for three years when I was a little girl," she told Metro. "My father was stationed there. How could you not be an Anglophile?"

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