March 21, 2012 by Me and My Monkeys
I’ve always wanted to make a film that brought Van Gogh’s The Cafe Terrace at Night to life. Woody Allen has beaten me to it. I’m glad he did.
Woody knows romance, fantasy and longing better than the poets, and he’s laid each of these on thick in Midnight in Paris.
While essentially a remake of the delightful Purple Rose of Cairo, this film will enthral Woody Allen fans from its first frame. The opening montage alone is enough to lull the least sentimental into an ethereal soft focus. It can’t help but strike a chord with those of us who want more time and creative control of our lives.
Gil (Owen Wilson) is perfectly relatable and understated, with his soft southern drawl adding to the dreamy melancholy of the plot and the vulnerability of his character. Wilson creates enough space to keep you perpetually hanging on his next line.
Inez (Rachel McAdams) is a paper tigress, but a convincing one. I expect Woody has read Sartre’s Huis Clos, in which Inès is one of the nightmarish ‘other people’ from whom there is no exit. If Inez and her family are hellish, Gil’s counterlife – whether real or imagined – is a heavenly escape to a world in which Woody plays his nostalgia card to perfection.
There’s a message in there too, and a good one.
A delicious mix of lightness and unbearable emotional weight, Midnight in Paris is Woody Allen at the top of his game. I hesitate to call it a masterpiece, but it’s difficult to argue that it’s not.
Recommended? Of course.
Out of 10? 10
My monkeys suggest:
- Hear Woody Allen at Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith.