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Feb 12, 2012

Review: Midnight in Paris (2011)

                  Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kurt Fuller, Mimi Kennedy, Michael Sheen, Nina Arianda, Carla Bruni, Yves Heck, Alison Pill, Corey Stoll, Tom Hiddleston, Sonia Rolland, Daniel Lundh, Kathy Bates, Marcial Di Fonzo Bo, Marion Cotillard, Léa Seydoux, Emmanuelle Uzan, Adrien Brody, Tom Cordier, Adrien de Van, Gad Elmaleh, David Lowe, Yves-Antoine Spoto, Laurent Claret, Vincent Menjou Cortes, Olivier Rabourdin and François Rostain.

Directed By:
                         Woody Allen.

                I recently saw this movie for the 5th time and thought i should give it a re-review, considering how much my review writing abilities have developed slightly where i now feel more confident in terms of writing about my reaction and the experience of movie, the whole hearted love i have for this masterpiece and considering its Oscar nomination i thought it was time. I am a big fan of Woody Allen's work and it began when i saw Annie Hall for the first time when i was young followed by Hannah and her Sisters and others. With the kind of track record he had from the past few years, no one thought he will do this good but this was one of the best surprises of the year with a genuinely excellent movie. It definitely isn't wrong to say that this is Woody's best movie since Bullets over Broadway. Midnight in Paris perfectly carried the themes of nostalgia, looking back and good old times that most of the Hollywood movies seemed to be following or in fact Midnight in Paris started all that. I was so excited to watch this movie back then that i have already enjoyed this movie over 5 times and still can't get enough of it.

                Midnight in Paris marks the return of the truly great and one of the best directors of all time, Woody Allen with a full force after his many misses. This is the story of an American screenwriter Gil Pender, who is having troubles writing his first novel. He and his wife Inez are on a vacation trip in Paris with Inez's parents who are there for some business. Gil is in love with Paris and wants to live there but Inez doesn't want to, they meet Inez's friends Paul and Carol and spends some time everyday with them exploring Paris. Paul comes off as this pseudo intellectual with many things to say about history even though its not quite accurate, Inez likes him but Gil doesn't. One night as he walks a bit drunk, at midnight he sees a vintage car coming towards with people dressed as the 1920's era people who invites him to come with them. Its not long that Gil realizes he has been transformed to the 20's era which he always considered to be the golden age of Paris, he meets his favorite writers, artists and everyone he ever idolized or read about. He also meets Adriana, muse of both Picasso and Hemingway and falls in love with her. Things go on and continue like this with his much more involvement in that time shifting fantasy and his real life where he is engaged and about to marry. One thing that i would really appreciate Woody is that not a single thing, theme or aspect of the movie overpowers the other, it doesn't get all too much the time travelling aspect. Everything is in a balanced way and is carried out throughout the movie with much deep thinking which comes as a no surprise considering it is a Woody Allen movie.

                   Owen Wilson plays Gil Pender, a very confused person finding his own way through this life, the 2010 for that one thing he always wanted. Without a doubt the most memorable performance of Owen Wilson in any movie he ever did, i will remember Owen as Gil for the rest of my life now. I don't mean he delivers a ground breaking performance but his career best, Woody knows who to give what (like Penelope in VCB) and casting himself in the characters that seems quite much like his own biography or his own self. I saw the old Woody Allen in Owen Wilson, very carefully casted by Woody and Owen himself pulled off a great Woody Allen the actor here which is a great thing. I was very happy and delighted to finally see Owen do some meaningful work, i just loved him. Not just him but his character comes across as very unique with his own set of ideas that never goes too goofy or nerdy but remains quite intellectual thinking even though he fantasize and wished to have been living in a era or time period that is not his. But this is not what makes him different considering this is a basic human idea of not liking or finding one fault or the other in their present and considering a past time period to be golden and meaningful. That truly reflects their current life and their work or what they do as Gil is trying to write a novel where the character goes to this memory shop or something which he later does to. Rachel McAdams plays Inez who comes off as the most annoying character of the movie and one of the most painfully annoying characters i have ever seen in my life. She is just their to differ and give opposite reaction to every single thing Gil says or think. It comes across all the time that Inez doesn't like Gil at all as she has to disagree with every single thing he has to say. I think Rachel pulled off her character quite well too. I found Michael Sheen and Nina Arianda quite a nice addition, their presence in the movie really provides a diverting route for Gil's character and yes Paul is as annoying as Inez but only he is not engaged to Gil or would have made his life completely insufferable so Inez and Paul are the most annoying and quite hated characters in the movie but they makes it all interesting and funny to watch too.

                Kurt Fuller and Mimi Kennedy plays Inez's parents whom i thought were the best kind of parents Inez can have i mean they literally were her parents. Coming to the long list of guest appearances and i am sorry if i forget to mention anyone. Carla Bruni plays a museum guide who is just an okay addition to the long list of guest actors but pulls off no great thing, just a nice addition. Tom Hiddleston plays F. Scott Fitzgerald and Alison Pill as Zelda Fitzgerald who were very interesting characters for a writer duo, writer couple. Alison pulled off a great Zelda and Tom looked quite charming and literally beautiful in the movie, yes i am using the word beautiful for a man. One of the best supporting performance by a guest actor comes from Corey Stoll who plays Ernest Hemingway, his expressions, the way he talks and the way he lets himself be Hemingway is just amazing, hands down. I am trying to just write one sentence about each of them because honestly they are so many. Adriana is played by the much charming and brilliant actress Marion Cotillard whose presence in the 1920's time shift for Gil is very influencing and she is someone who makes Gil realize something big. She as usual performed very good and looked just stunning. Kathy Bates plays Gertrude Stein, the most lovable and hug able character but i am not quite impressed by her way of playing Stein, she tries too hard that leads her to some not so nice moments but that is not a big letdown at all. The most scene stealing role actor in the movie has to be Adrien Brody playing Salvador Dali who really provides the best look, body gesture and accent for playing the character who seems quite surreal and the list goes on so i have to stop and just say that this great ensemble cast brings out the best and makes a wonderful watch, their addition really adds a lot and makes Midnight in Paris great, honest and charming.

                 Woody Allen crafted this wonderful movie and i am so proud of him, a filmmaker who does what he wants. Screenplay of this movie is flawless and so is the direction, it has brilliant cinematography and art direction. It is a work of art and beauty in every single way, this is a tribute and honest homage to the city of Paris and what a wonderful way to do it. It begins with a long montage of different places from Paris from the morning to then night and rain in between which feels like the best first few minutes for any movie i have seen and it sets the tone for the rest of movie. You can clearly see the love for Paris and on the art on the whole by Woody here. This is the best romantic comedy and comedy in general i have seen in many years and a movie that will stay with me. I loved how i laughed and smiled throughout the movie, proving that not the silly pathetic one liners but smartly crafted humour is something to smile, laugh and enjoy. The underlying comedy is something that makes the viewing a much more pleasure than it already is. I love this movie so very much, one of the 5 best movies of the year. You will leave this movie with a long lasting smile on your face, i loved the ending too. I love you Woody Allen, you are genius.

Grade: A