Midnight in Paris: Somewhen, Somewhere, Someway

By Kai-Arne Zimny

Midnight in Paris

Gil Pen­der (Owen Wil­son) is a suc­cess­ful Hol­ly­wood screen­writer, lives in Bev­er­ly Hills, and has a beau­ti­ful fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams). And yet, life feels a lit­tle unsat­is­fy­ing to him because he wants to be a nov­el­ist and feels deep down that “we both like pita-bread” may not be the best basis for a mar­riage. While vaca­tion­ing in Paris with his wife-to-be and her posh, con­ser­v­a­tive, and busi­ness-ori­ent­ed par­ents, Gil real­izes that he longs for some­place else and very lit­er­al­ly sometime else: Paris in the 1920s! Pal­pa­bly at odds with his present time and com­pa­ny, Gil seeks soli­tude one night in the streets of his beloved city. When the bells of Notre Dame strike mid­night, an old-fash­ioned lim­ou­sine sud­den­ly appears out of nowhere, and a bunch of good-humored peo­ple invite him on a trip beyond his wildest imagination. 

Mid­night in Paris (2011) was writ­ten and direct­ed by Woody Allen, who received an Acad­e­my Award for the script in 2012. Although the movie’s offi­cial­ly referred to as a “roman­tic com­e­dy,” that clas­si­fi­ca­tion feels slight­ly off-tar­get. It is roman­tic and com­i­cal, but also melan­cholic and thought-inspir­ing. The lead char­ac­ter Gil con­stant­ly and con­vinc­ing­ly oozes with long­ing, nos­tal­gia, and a deep sense of belong­ing some­where/-when else, and Owen Wil­son proves that his tal­ents extend far beyond his usu­al sil­ly com­e­dy roles. The cast is mar­velous across the board, and the numer­ous lit­er­ary as well as artis­tic celebri­ties Gil meets on his mag­i­cal trip – Ernest Hem­ing­way (Corey Stoll), Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), and Sal­vador Dalí (Adrien Brody) to name only a few – are superbly por­trayed. How­ev­er, it is not nec­es­sary to know much about these leg­endary peo­ple, the era, or the city to enjoy the film. Woody Allen suc­ceeds in craft­ing a script that con­tains many inter­tex­tu­al ref­er­ences, but at the same time works on its own. He also cap­tures a spe­cial atmos­phere: the music, the scenery, and last but cer­tain­ly not least – the col­ors! Mid­night in Paris is a mel­low-yel­low movie, which not only con­tributes to its feel-good effect but also ties in nice­ly with the over­all theme of nos­tal­gia and long­ing. A movie for mind and heart!

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