Sunday, July 24, 2011

Movie Review: Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris, by Woody Allen is a funny, well-written romantic comedy that had some interesting themes such as living in the past, being a dreamer versus a realist, believing in yourself, creating quality work, and have the courage to risk changes. Gil (played by Owen Wilson) arrives in Paris with his fiancee, Inez, and her parents. This beautiful city enthralls the romantic Gil with its rich literary history. He wants to live there and walk in the rain exploring the streets that have inspired some of the greatest artists in history. Inez is a realist and rich brat who can't understand why anyone would think walking in the rain and getting wet would be romantic. She wants Gil to continue making lots of money as a screenwriter and live in Malibu. Gil feels that his career as a screenwriter lacks quality and he wants to change careers, live in Paris, and finish a quality fiction novel. Gil wants to find more meaning in his craft and produce something that has a lasting value in society; something that will last long after he is dead. Inez thinks he's nuts but humors him.

Inez and Gil meet Paul and Carol in Paris. Paul is a pendantic professor who Inez admires and thinks more highly of than Gil. She puts Gil down and goggles over the brilliant Paul. Inez wants Paul to read Gil's novel and she explains to them that he won't let anyone read his manuscript and get help. She does know that the story is about a person who collects nostalgia pieces from the 1920's and that Gil wishes he was born in that era. She's condescending when she explains it to her friends and isn't supportive of Gil's venture into novel writing. One night after dinner with Paul and Carol, Paul suggests going dancing while Gil suggests just he and Inez go for a stroll on the streets of Paris. Inez say's she'd rather go dancing and leaves Gil to walk the streets alone. Gil gets lost and is waiting at a corner when a 1920's car pulls up with Scott Fitzgerald as a passenger inviting Gil to go for a ride. Gil is transported back to the 1920's were he meets famous musicians, artists, and writers. He meets Ernest Hemingway while barhopping with Fitzgerald and asks him to read his manuscript. Hemingway says "no" that he would hate it because he hates all writers - they are his competition and he wants to be the best writer of the time. He does offer to pass on Gil's manuscript to the famous publicist, Gertrude Stein.

Stein makes recommendations for his book and Gil is transported back to modern times where he writes like mad and grows farther apart from Inez. She in turn goes out more with Paul and Carol. When Gil goes back in the past the famous artists tell how their art comments on the times they were currently living in: Picasso comments on bourgeous society, Hemingway comments on war, Fitzgerald comments on American society, Dali comments on reality, and Picasso's mistress comments are a mirror of Gil's desires to live in the past. When Gil changes his novel to reflect the present and his relationship with Inez he gradually realizes he needs to let go of his past in order to move forward.

The character development of Gil is well done showing a person unsure of himself and his art to one confident and willing to take a risk in order to pursue his dream of creating quality work. The dialogue is funny in the contrasts of Gil who is more simple and Paul who is a know-it-all intellectual. The satire of the famous characters is at its best in the character of Salvador Dali (played by Adrien Brody). He was melodramatic and describes the sadness of Gill like a surrealist painting that is hysterical. He also sees a rhinoceros in everything. Google Dali's work if you are not familiar with it - the scene will be funnier with that background knowledge.  Time will tell if as an artist Woody Allen's film will be a lasting comment on the 21st century. This movie is for adults or teenagers.


  1. The books cover's sky... it seems familiar to me. Is it by Vincent Van Gogh? I have a puzzle of it. I'll try reading that in the Library. Seems interesting!Q

  2. Hi Catherine,
    You are right!
    The sky of the poster is an imitation of Vincent Van Gogh’s starry night paintings. It’s kind of clever how the poster has the actor in front like a photograph (realistic) and as you look to the horizon it changes to represent impressionistic art (looks dreamy). The main character drifts between reality and this dreamlike world of time travel.

    The movie was written as a screenplay by Woody Allen. I couldn’t find it in a book format or information that he based it on a novel.
    Thanks for reading my blog!