My wife Lauren and I were delighted to see Woody Allen’s new film, Midnight in Paris, over the weekend. The film is wonderfully entertaining, very sweet, and really a lot of fun.
Owen Wilson plays a successful screenwriter who has come to Paris with his fiancee and her parents. While his fiancee sees the trip as a shopping opportunity, Mr. Wilson has a different agenda. He has always loved the notion of being a novelist, has indeed written his first book, and is enamored with the whole concept of being an artist in Paris, not a commercial “hack”. Unfortunately, his wife (played with great audacity and courage by Rachel McAdams) is shallow,materialistic, and totally horrified that her soon-to-be husband is actually considering a career that is not based solely on making money.
Increasingly disaffected from his fiancee and his whole life, Me. Wilson begins wandering Paris alone at night and is soon transported into the Paris of the 1920s, the golden age of writers of which he has always fantasized.
He immediately meets Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein (who agrees to read and critique his novel) and many other notable artists and writers of the time. As his adventure deepens, he meets a mysterious woman (Marion Cotillard) with whom he becomes completely infatuated. He also becomes more and more convinced that he has to stop being who his fiancee and others want him to be and embrace the artist that he himself longs to become. More on that very important theme in a moment.
During one of his nightly sojourns, he meets Salvador Dali who introduces him to filmmakers Luis Bunuel and Man Ray. Mr. Wilson the tells all 3 that he is actually from the future and that he is falling in love with the Ms. Cotillard. At that point, one of the film makers says “A man from the future falls in love with a woman from the past.” To which Dali adds, “I see a photograph.”
Lauren and I sat bolt upright at that moment and a couple of other audience members started chuckling and talking as well, knowing that it was an obvious homage to Somewhere in Time in which Christopher Reeve falls in love with the photograph of a woman and travels back in time to meet her. In fact, the original ad copy for the film was “Someday in the past, he will find her.”
Back to Midnight in Paris.
Besides being charming to the max, the film is such a cinematic paean to the visual splendor of Paris that the French government should make Mr. Allen an honorary citizen.
The film is itself an inspiring message about following your heart and being genuine and true to ourselves. All around us today, we see people’s facades disintegrating because the face they show to the world is not a genuine reflection of their inner being. Mr. Wilson’s character has become disenchanted with his own life that he literally can no longer live in his old persona. What a wonderful message to all of us. Be real. Be ourselves. Trust. Love.
An adult film about adult themes in the summer.
What a lovely surprise.