It has been really interesting to me to watch the late in life renaissance by Woody Allen. For a while in the late nineties, his films were becoming stagnant. However, he began to change some of his formulas in films. First of all, he never appears in his own films now, leaving it to other actors to embody his unmistakable neuroses. He has also allowed himself to stray from his native New York, setting his films in London (Match Point), Barcelona (Vicky Christina Barcelona) and best of all, Paris. (Midnight in Paris.)
Midnight in Paris tells the story of Gil Pender, a screenwriter who is traveling in Paris with his fiancee. One night, he is walking back to his hotel room only to get lost in the streets of Paris. As he pauses to find his bearings, an antique car stops on the side of the road. He jumps in, only to find himself taken back in time to 1920’s Paris, which he considers the Golden Age of Paris.
It is in the scenes of 1920’s Paris that the film comes alive. Gil meets Cole Porter, Gertrude Stein, Scott and Zelda Fiztgerald, and best of all, Hemingway. Hemingway’s dialogue made me laugh so hard. The discussion of hunting exotic animals in Africa, the references to war, and above all the terse, crisp sentences lacking in any flourish and ornamentation was simply perfect, classic Hemingway.
Owen Wilson was wonderful as Gil, expressing both wonder at the world of Paris in the 1920’s and his vague, persistent, dissatisfaction with his work, his fiancee, and his life in general. Indeed, the entire cast was marvelous. Special props must go to Marion Cotillard and Kathy Bates.
With the exception of the end, where it became slightly obvious and preachy, I found Midnight in Paris to be simply delightful.