Pros: Acting is great, scenes of Paris are magnificent
Cons: Wilson and McAdams lack chemistry
I was talked into watching Midnight in Paris by my brother, who is a huge Woody Allen fan. Before seeing this movie, I had seen one Woody Allen movie in my life, Annie Hall...and I wasn't even a big fan of that the first time I saw it. But based on his prodding (and willingness to pay for the ticket), I checked the film out.
The story centers on Gil Pender (played by Owen Wilson), a Hollywood screenwriter having trouble completing his first real novel, who is vacationing with his fiancée Inez (played by Rachel McAdams) and her parents. Gil, who loves Paris and wishes he had never left when he visited years ago, is looking for inspiration for his writing. His fiancée and her family, on the other hand, seem more interested in shopping for items for the home she is hoping they will have in Malibu after they get married. In particular, Inez seems more interested in spending time with her pretentious friends Paul and Carol (played by Michael Sheen and Nina Arianda) than enjoying the beauty of Paris with Gil.
Everything changes one night when Gil skips out on dancing with Inez and her friends and finds himself lost in Paris. Sitting on some steps at the stroke of midnight, a mysterious car comes down the road and its occupants beckon him to join them. He finds himself at a party, feeling completely out of place, but slowly recognizing some of the names and faces around him. To reveal anymore would ruin the secret of what makes this film so magical, but needless to say Gil's life will never be the same.
I'll start by saying that I've never been a fan of Owen Wilson, as I consider him to be less talented than his brother Luke. That being said, if he takes more roles like Gil Pender, I might have to change my opinion. Wilson is fun and witty, playing his role to perfection. He is joined by a great cast with several great performances, including Kathy Bates, Corey Stoll and Adrien Brody. Almost everyone fits their role perfectly, including Alison Pill, who might be the best part of the movie, even in her limited screen time.
The one person who seemed out of place or miscast would be Rachel McAdams. She plays the role as I'm sure it was written, snobbish and self-interested to the extreme. The problem is that she and Wilson seem to show no chemistry together, and it is hard to see how their characters saw anything in each other in the first place. Unless she was interested in him because opposites attract and he was just interested in a pretty face, I just didn't understand the connection. Her character seems less apart of his life and more as a stepping stone in his journey towards self-awareness.
The script is fantastic, as the humor comes not from physical comedy or silly one-liners, but the characters and the environments they are in. It leads the movie to have fantastic pacing, as there are no dull moments and the 100 minutes in the theater just seem to fly by. The cinematography is excellent as well, as Allen and his crew does a wonderful job capturing Paris in all its glory. It truly is a beautiful film to watch from the first minutes, where we are shown many pictures of life all across the city.
Overall, I absolutely loved this movie. It is one of my favorite movies this year, and definitely made me want to give some of Allen's earlier works a look. An amazing romantic comedy/fantasy, I would recommend it to anyone, whether you are a fan of Woody Allen or not.
"I'm having trouble because I'm a Hollywood hack who never gave real literature a shot."...4 out of 4 stars