By Afra Nariman
Midnight in Paris (2011)
Directed by: Woody Allen
Stars: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Tom Hiddleston, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, Corey Stoll
Gil (played by Owen Wilson) is on vacation in Paris with his fiancé (played by Rachel McAdams) and her family. As a writer, he naturally has a romantic connection to the city. When he begins to mysteriously be transported back to the 1920s every night, he meets the great writers and artists of the past who inspire him, and Adriana (played by Marion Cotillard) who changes his perception of love. His experiences make him doubt his engagement.
Midnight in Paris captures the essence of the thinker, the writer, the artist, the romantic and those who are nostalgic of the ever-fleeting past. For anybody who identifies with one or more of those traits, this movie can be extremely relatable. Of course, there are complications with watching Woody Allen’s films, due his allegations, but if you’re able to separate the artist from the art, Midnight in Paris can be a joyful and meaningful viewing experience. If you cannot, that is totally understandable!
Midnight in Paris tells the story of Gil, who is a romantic artist who feels like he was born too late. He aches for the past and worships the great writers and artists of past generations. For an inexplainable reason, while he is in Paris for a visit, Gil is transported back to the 1920’s each night around midnight. In the roaring ’20s, Gil meets and converses with some of the most iconic figures in literature and art. A few of the numerous genius-artists who appear in this film are: Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald and Pablo Picasso. As he spends more and more time living in the past, he realizes that he doesn’t love his fiancé the way that he should; they just don’t mesh. He falls in love with Adriana, one of Picasso’s mistresses, but when the two of them are transported back to the 1800’s, Adriana succumbs to nostalgia, the way Gil did when visiting the 1920s. The gist of the lesson here, is that we are all nostalgic of a time in the past, but never appreciative of the moment we live in. Gil realizes that he must make the most of his life and realizes that he can make his own time period just as exciting by doing what he really wants. When he returns to 2011 (current day), he breaks off his engagement and decides to live the life he always wanted. He moves to Paris to continue writing his novel and even meets a girl who shares many of the same passions as he does… such as walking in the rain at night in Paris.
The music that pulses throughout the film gives a nostalgic and romantic French ambiance that perfectly conducts the mood of the film. Midnight in Paris beautifully captures the essence of Paris; the city of love, art and intellectuals. With a hint of comedy and a splash of philosophy; this film serves as an ode to the great thinkers and artists of the past. It gives us a nostalgic look at a perhaps more imaginative and lively era of the world’s history; but grounds us in the end by stressing the importance of making our own time on Earth worth while because it too, is one of a kind. Midnight in Paris is an open lover letter to Paris, the past and to art itself. It’s easy to watch, is unparalleled in originality, has an entertaining story, and is entirely whole-hearted!