"Midnight In Paris"
I loved the new Woody Allen film, “Midnight In Paris”, but then I’m a long-standing fan, even of some of those works which have been received with little enthusiasm by critics (e.g. “Whatever Works”, “Anything Else”); although I’ve thus far avoided others (“You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger”, “Cassandra’s Dream”). This time round, the Woody surrogate is Owen Wilson as Gil, a successful screenwriter engaged to California princess Inez (Rachel McAdams), who nonetheless hankers after the artistic milieu of a golden age, and whilst on a trip to Paris, manages to travel back to the 1920s and commune with his artistic heroes (Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Bunuel, Man Ray etc.), and fall under the spell of Marion Cotillard’s discontented Adriana. It is perhaps his most filmic work in a while – there are no lazy voice-overs or direct addresses to camera, and the city, as well as the various women Gil encounters, are photographed beautifully (courtesy of cinematographers Johanne Debas and Darius Khondji). The central character is, of course, a fool – in love with France, but never bothering to learn the language; sleepwalking into marriage with a woman with whom he has little in common – but Wilson is effortlessly engaging. As usual with Allen, a host of actors shine – Michael Sheen as Inez’ intellectual old flame, Alison Pill as Zelda Fitzgerald, Corey Stoll as an intense Ernest Hemingway, Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein, Adrien Brody brilliant in a regretfully brief turn as Dali. Of course, the plot makes no logical sense, and the messages – it’s important to live in the present, you can only find real love with someone who shares your dreams – are obvious, but it’s all delightfully done, and as witty as ever. One is heartened, if mystified, by the fact that it’s become his biggest ever box-office hit in America.