Synema Synopsis: Midnight In Paris

by Matt Orlove

"Wait,you're not Ben Stiller!"

***

I honestly don’t know how he does it.  The last year Woody Allen failed to produce a film was 1976.  You’d think a lack of fresh ideas would eventually catch up to the neurotic auteur, but in these last 35 years he created such brilliance as Annie Hall, Manhattan, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Celebrity, Sweet and Lowdown, and Vicki Christina Barcelona. There have been some duds (Alice, Anything Else, Scoop), but I look forward each year to seeing whatever he puts out.

Anybody who has ever seen a Woody Allen movie knows the main protagonist, for the most part, is basically a caricature of Allen himself.  When he was younger, he’d play the part himself, but as of late he’s been keen to see his neurosis portrayed by younger, better looking actors who can stammer nervously and still as charmingly as he does.  Kenneth Branagh (Celebrity) and  Sean Penn (Sweet and Lowdown), channeled Allen to a tee. Surprisingly, Owen Wilson (Wedding Crashers, anything starring Ben Stiller or brother Luke) does the same in his newest tour de force, Midnight in Paris.

Owen is still shocked that Marley isn't coming home

Wilson plays Gil, a Hollywood screenwriter in Paris with his fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams, Wedding Crashers, Notebook).  Inez, not interested in his thirst for any inspiration Paris offers to help him finish the great American novel, would rather spend her nights partying with pseudo-intellectual, Paul (Michael Sheen, Frost/Nixon, Tron).  Because of this, Gil spends his nights walking the streets of Paris alone.

This is where the fun begins and I do say, if you didn’t pay attention in English class or Art History, you may not be in on the joke.

On his nightly excursions, at the drop of midnight, Gil spends his time drinking, dancing, and conversing with the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, and Cole Porter. He gets literary advice from Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), and gets compared to a rhinoceros from Salvador Dali (an uncanny Adrian Brody). His idealization of the past is brought into fruition by everything that Paris has to offer, mostly life and art.  From Toulouse-Lautrec to Zelda Fitzgerald, Allen carefully casts his actors in a way that you actually believe you are watching the real deal.

"You know it's kinda awkward that you're here with me, but asking for Luke's phone number."

Allen’s love for Paris shines through on this one like his love for New York City does in Manhattan.  It is so much fun to watch Wilson go toe to toe with his heroes, each night he journeys along the Seine.

If you are like me and never miss your annual Woody Allen fix, this is one not to sleep on.

3 Comments

  1. Great review Matt…I’m right with you…this one was fun with great characters and slight twists along the way.

    I thought Owen Wilson did a nice job of channeling a younger Woody and Rachel McAdams, who I think is easy on the eyes plays the beotch well.

    Pleasantly surprised. Congrats on a well written article.

  2. Thanks Chris!

  3. I think you have found your calling…movie reviewer. Loved the movie and loved your review. Hugs.