Written & Directed by Woody Allen
Death is inevitable. Everything before us has experienced it and no on has been able to elude it. Yet that does not stop people from being mortally petrified of the notion that one day they will no longer exist, at least not here on earth. Woody Allen is one of those people and he has played on it his whole career as a filmmaker. With his new film, Midnight in Paris, Allen tackles this issue, along with some others, in a way only Woody can: with humor, intrigue, a stunning cast, and as always, intelligence.
Owen Wilson is signed up this time to play the neurotic Allen character, Gil. Gil is a Hollywood screenwriter who is attempting to cross over into novels, but his first book is coming along slowly, and to hurt matters, he won’t let anyone read it. But when he tags along with his fiancee Inez (Rachel McAdams) to Paris, where Inez’s father is on business, Gil discovers late night wanderings through the world’s most romantic city may be just the inspiration that he needs.
Woody Allen has been a great filmmaker his whole career. Many say he has lost his touch somewhat, but with an output like Woody’s, pretty much a film written and directed by him every year, it is easy to say his work doesn’t hold up to his masterpieces from the 70s and 80s. But I submit that his work has remained at a high level and Midnight in Paris may stand even higher. The choice of Owen Wilson as the Allen character seemed strange to me at first, with Wilson’s personality seeming much more laid back than that of Allen, but it really works here. Wilson’s chill persona plays perfectly into the character of Gil. Gil is the type of character that makes me fall in love with a film like this.
If I had to describe the film in one word, that word would be “magical”. I choose magical because Paris is a magical city, with a magical history. But I also choose it because the reflections and observations that Allen is making with this film are magical. I always try not to ruin any important plot points, so it is difficult to describe it further, but I greatly appreciated what Woody was saying with this film. We all seem to live at least somewhat in the past, wishing films were still made by Charlie Chaplin and Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock, when one must realize that we live in an era when the Coen Brothers and Christoper Nolan, and yes, Woody Allen, are all making fantastic films.
The nostalgia of the film is remarkable, and nostalgia is something that is great in every way possible. It influences us and inspires us to build on the past and create something entirely new and remarkable in the present and in the future. What Woody Allen has crafted with his latest film is something that will stand the test of time because it is the test of time, asking questions like: “Does Paris look better in the 20s, now, or in the rain?” When in reality, the answer can just as easily be all of the above.