Had I waited until this edition of the Cougar Chronicle to rank my top five favorite movies, Midnight in Paris, the 2011 Woody Allen film, would likely crack the list. Although this movie is now a decade old and I’m sure many of you have already seen it, it was simply too good to ignore, and I had to honor it by writing a review.
The best way to describe this movie is that it’s fun and amusing. Gil Pender, played by Owen Wilson, is an aspiring novelist who is vacationing in Paris with his fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams). However, when Inez runs into her college friend Paul, the trip takes a turn. Although Gil finds Paul arrogant and even refers to him as a “pseudo-intellectual,” Inez is so fond of him that the trip, which was once supposed to be a romantic getaway, now revolves around him. One night after a wine tasting, a drunk Gil walks the streets of Paris to try and get back to his hotel but finds himself in the company of his role models F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda, Hemmingway, Pablo Picasso, and many other renowned artists in the 1920s. He soon discovers that when midnight hits on this certain street in Paris, he can travel back in time to the 1920s, a long-lasting dream of his. It’s no surprise that Gil, who always says that “he was born a century too late,” takes advantage of this opportunity to travel back in time as much as he can. As Gil spends more time in the past, he falls in love with Picasso’s mistress, a woman named Adriana. Much like him, Adriana romanticizes about a previous generation, for her, the 1890s. What Gil starts to realize is that yearning for the past is simply denial, a central message of the movie. Although Gil thinks the 1920s are the golden era, Adrianna thinks the 1890s are, and the people in the 1890s likely think the Renaissance was, and it’s this cycle that never ends. Instead, Woody Allen is urging us to live in the present — much like Scott Fitzgerald in his The Great Gatsby. Living in the present and seeing what’s in front of you can bring some harsh realities, which for Gil meant his fiancé, Inez, having an affair with Paul. Yet when Inez begs Gil to take her back, Gil realizes he’s better off without her and decides to stay in Paris. The movie concludes with Gil walking alongside another woman, the clock striking midnight, and Gil remaining in the present.
I think Owen Wilson was phenomenal in his role as Gil. He’s so sincere and enthusiastic that the audience is truly rooting for his success, which makes the ending all the better. But you can’t commend Owen Wilson without also applauding Rachel McAdams. She plays the role of a materialistic, shallow wife so well that viewers find her despicable. It’s also worth noting that the cinematography is excellent and truly portrays Paris as a magical city.
There are so many fun moments in this film that can’t go unmentioned, like Hemmingway going around drunk at a party asking people to box, or Gil learning the true meaning behind one of Picasso’s paintings and then disproving Paul’s interpretation of it. It’s a fantasy film, and the viewer must give in to the magic, and not think too much about the logistics.
In a nutshell, this movie is fun, entertaining, and really does bring a smile to the faces of those that watch it. I certainly recommend watching if you haven’t already. On a scale from 1-10, I’d give it a 9.1.