Some say it’s been a long time since Woody Allen made an actual Woody Allen film and that Midnight in Paris is a return to form. I couldn’t say, but I can say this: if you’re whimsical, if you’re a reader, if you’ve any kind of inner mythology, if you long for a universe that understands that, if you’re searching for your tribe, then this may be a movie you’ll enjoy. It’s a series of vignettes as Owen Wilson’s character of Gil is picked up by a vintage automobile, on a Parisian street corner, at the strike of midnight every night and transported back to the 1920s. There he is welcomed unquestioningly into the company of Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Picasso and the like. It’s pure daydream and, if you approach the film with the same intent that you would approach a long soak in a hot bath, rejuvenating. Every now and then something comes along that feels like a nod of understanding, and this was one of them.
Craft-wise: It refreshed a few things for me. It’s a very simply structured film that gets hung up on absolutely nothing. As such it reminded me of what a writer can get away with, and how much time we can spend chasing ourselves in circles trying to make a plot motivationally unquestionable, absolutely airtight. This is a story that just tells itself, with nothing to prove. And it’s lovelier for it, I think. Worth remembering.
Contains Spoilers (highlight to read): I learned a little piece of craft from this film. At first I wondered why the private investigator subplot didn’t go anywhere, but by the end it had perfectly served its purpose: when it was deployed it raised a little tension and made us concerned that Gil’s night-time escapes might be ruined. But at the end it showed how that perfect, warm world of friendship does not allow just anyone to enter, that only the pure of heart can survive there, and it served to show – by association – the future father-in-law being ‘defeated’. Nice. And it did nothing to upset the balance of the story.
What Stuck: The word ‘rhinoceros’. Hemingway’s cadence.
Came Away Feeling: Buoyed.
Repeat Viewings? A second one, certainly.
A Quick Note About The Site
We’re still tidying. At present the Preview Chapters are out of whack (the print is massive and bold), and the menus in the sidebar aren’t quite right (it can be tricky being able to click on sub-folders. My advice for now: mouse up from below, not down from above.) The formatting over at the Store is also out of whack and we’re missing subscription and sharing links in the sidebars. Once we’re done there’ll be a small, not-obnoxious Twitter feed in there somewhere as well.