I am not a Woody Allen fan, although I might be if I had seen more than two of his 41 films. He has established a place for himself in the cinematic world, and some people swear by his films. His name attached to a movie is enough to get some people to see it. I am not one of those people, but his newest (and now highest-grossing) film Midnight in Paris was delightful and thought-provoking enough to win me over.
The other film of Allen’s that I have seen was 2008’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which had a similar whimsical, you-are-watching-a-movie feel. I didn’t like that one nearly as much–its point was muddled and its story lagged for me. Allen attempted something similar in Midnight in Paris: have a sort of moral that you get to eventually through your characters running around confused, which generally has a humorous effect. Maybe all of his movies are like this–I wouldn’t know.
The attempt works here though. The concept of nostalgia is charming and something that many cinephiles can relate to. It is a sweet take on the adage, “Everyone remembers the past as being better than the present.” Its conclusion is fitting and leaves your heart warm. It is a triumphant little film that has no great drama or distress, only laughter and charm.
I must also say the acting in this film is superb. How could it not be with such an all star cast? Everyone from Kathy Bates to Adrien Brody to Owen Wilson is quite funny. I think Rachel McAdams is obligated to play a bitch when her hair is blond, and she does it quite well. Corey Stoll as Hemingway is utterly hilarious.
I will say that you will find this movie a lot funnier if you know about the authors and artists of the “Lost Generation.” If you don’t know that Hemingway was always challenging others to a box or that Zelda Fitzgerald was known for her audacity, you won’t find Wilson’s trips to the 1920s nearly as funny as they are.
Still, there is humor in all aspects of this movie. It might not be for everyone, but for those who appreciate it, it’s something special.