Midnight in Paris (4 out of 5 stars)
Directed and Written by: Woody Allen (Annie Hall, Manhattan, Bullets Over Broadway)
Starring: Owen Willson, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates)
What can I say about Mr. Allen's latest film, but that this film is a beautifully crafted and witty love letter to Paris. The opening sequence of this film is a set of images of the city Paris at different times of the day, with different types of weather. Darius Khondji and Johanne Debas do a great capturing the the beauty of the city of love and set the stage for this tale which not only stars Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams, but the scene stealer in this film is the city of Paris.
The film follows Gil (Owen Wilson) a successful Hollywood screen writer who wants to be a novelist. Gil is engaged to Inez (Rachel McAdams) and is Paris with her parents and her father is closing a business deal. Gil and inez run into a man she used to be in love with Paul (Michael Sheen) and his wife Carol played by one of the funniest newcomers Nina Arianda. Paul is this know-it-all who tries to impress Inez and show up Gil. As Paul, Carol, and Inez go out dancing one night this leave Gil to explore Paris at Midnight and the story goes into a dreamlike state that is amazing and beautiful. Without giving much of the unique plot away this story is mostly about the idealization of the past, and the connection that we all have to nostalgia of the time past.
Wilson does a good job playing the role of playing the neurotic role Allen always uses for his leading man. When I see a Woody Allen film (even that does not star Woody) I know his leading male will have similar characteristics. Wilson does a great balancing neurotic tendencies with genuine idealism and hope that he will be inspired by Paris and his experiences throughout the film with the different literary figures and Adrianna (a captivating Marion Cotillard). Allen's writing is sharp and one his best films in years (which not be saying much), but I just was sucked into the story.
Midnight in Paris is of course a love letter to not only Paris but the historical figures that inhabited this city, and it creates a story with beauty and grace that leaves the viewer thinking about their own nostalgic experiences.