Dir. Woody Allen. U.S.A. 2011.

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Woody Allen's Oscar nominated movie comes out on DVD for the pleasure of Home Entertainment purposes.
Allen's love affair with Europe which has brought us such commerical work as Match Point and Vicky Cristina Barcelona, continues with his biggest and most profitable film to date.
Midnight in Paris stars Owen Wilson as Gil, a former screenwriter on holiday in Paris with his fiancee Inez (Rachel McAdams).  Gil is attempting to write his first time novel, and is seeking inspiration on the streets of Paris with its endless reams of culture and sophistication.  A spanner in the works appears in the form of intellectual Paul (Michael Sheen), a former college crush, who is meant to be a superior of Gil.
One night after wine-tasting, Inez, Paul and his fiancee Carol go dancing.  Gil passes over the invitation, and goes strolling the streets.  When he gets lost, he sits and hears a church bell strike Midnight.  A car appears and in it is Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), who takes him to a party where he encounters Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston and Alison Pill).
Gil has a better night with historical figures than the present day people he is on holiday with - he is in opposition to Inez's Republican parents due to his democratic, Hollywood beliefs - Gil's novel centres around a man who runs a nostalgia shop.  This stream of nostalgia flows through the film as figures from literature (Gertrude Stein), art (Picasso and Dali) and music (Cole Porter) co-exist in Gil's fantasies.
Problems arise when Gil has a connection with Adriana (Marion Cotillard), a muse for Picasso, as they slowly begin to fall in love Gil begins questioning his commitment to Inez and whether they are in love.  There is a funny scene between Gil and Dali (Adrien Brody), who will not stop comparing a man to a rhinoceros in terms of love.
Allen does a wonderful job of making Gil a believable fantasist.  Although he is blind to his fiancee falling in love with her college crush, Gil has happened upon a world away from the mundanity and pseudo-intellectual falsity of Paul.  Whilst Paul is all book smarts and academica; Gil is a street smart and fittingly is an embodiment of never judging a book by its cover.
As an Allen surrogate, Wilson has this ease and charm about him.  In Frat Pack movies, which made his name it came across as a laissez-faire influence; but his laidback nature here compensates Allen's easy flow of narrative and plot.
My own criticism would be that Allen has concentrated so much on Gil and the historical figures; that he has failed to paint fully rounded characters in the real world especially the women such as Inez, who although beautiful as Rachel McAdams is, she comes across as a women who wants to control Gil rather than co-exist with him. You also wonder how their paths ever crossed in the first place, as she is so fixated with herself - a shame considering how well he wrote Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johansson in 'Vicky..'
Midnight in Paris is out on DVD now from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

Jamie Garwood

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