Midnight in Paris (PG)

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner6/10/2011

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 94 mins

Beautifully shot, wonderfully acted and superbly written, this is a hugely enjoyable, frequently funny and sweetly surreal comedy that marks a long-awaited return to form for Woody Allen.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris stars Owen Wilson as Gil, a Hollywood screenwriter who's struggling to write his first novel. When he and his fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) tag along on her father's (Kurt Fuller) business trip to Paris, Gil takes a moonlight walk one night, partly to get away from Paul (Michael Sheen), the obnoxious friend Inez insists on spending time with.

However, at the stroke of midnight, Gil finds himself magically transported to the Paris of the 1920s that he has always romanticised about and soon he's spending his nights hanging out with the likes of Hemingway (Corey Stoll), Cole Porter (Yves Heck), Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston and Alison Pill), Salvador Dali (Adrien Brody) and Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), who agrees to cast a critical eye over his novel. However, things get more complicated when Gil falls for Picasso's beautiful muse Adriana (Marion Cotillard), while his behaviour back in the real world causes Inez's father to hire a private detective (Priceless' Gad Elmaleh) to find out where he goes at night.

The Good
Wilson turns out to be the best Woody surrogate in years and he's perfectly cast as Gil, with his distinctive comic delivery proving a natural fit with Allen's dialogue. There's also terrific support from a luminous Cotillard and fabulous comic turns from Stoll, Pill and Brody, though McAdams gets slightly short shrift as Inez.

The superb script brings to mind the sweetly surreal charm of Allen's short stories while also subtly echoing The Purple Rose of Cairo and exploring some moving and thought-provoking ideas about nostalgia. It also, rather cleverly, turns the pretentious name-dropping of some of Allen's previous films into a brilliant running gag, with new literary or artistic figures popping up every couple of minutes and enabling some wonderful lines in the process (“So how long have you been dating Picasso?”)

The Great
Needless to say, the script is packed with several hilarious gags, such as Gil giving Bunuel the idea for one of his movies (and Bunuel not getting it) or a genuinely inspired gag involving Elmaleh's character that it would be churlish to reveal here. On top of that, Darius Khondji's exquisite camerawork makes Paris look even more beautiful than it already is, while Allen's usual choice of a traditional jazz score feels entirely appropriate for once.

Worth seeing?
Midnight in Paris is a terrific return to form for Woody Allen, thanks to a wonderful script and fabulous performances from a superb ensemble cast. Highly recommended.

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Midnight in Paris (PG)
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Content updated: 28/02/2020 19:48

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