I've always been in two minds about Woody Allen. He's invariably struck me as rambling & self-indulgent but Paris is one of my best loved cities in the world and the luminous Marion Cotillard, who's one of the stars, is my favourite actress so I decided to give the film a go.
It turned out to be a very good decision on my part - 'Midnight in Paris' is wonderful.
To summarise briefly, it's about Gil, an American writer played by Owen Wilson, visiting Paris with his fiancee Inez, played perfectly by Rachel McAdams, and her very Republican parents. Gil is a romanticist, a dreamer who'd love to move to Paris & write a novel whilst Inez is more self absorbed & dreams of owning €18,000.00 antique chairs to put in a brand new Malibu beach house. It's obvious from the start that they're completely unsuited but they stumble along unhappily.
One night Gil decides to take a walk through the streets of Paris on his own. He's picked up by an antique taxi and transported back to a time he's always dreamed about, the golden age of Paris, the Jazz Age, where amongst many people, he encounters his idols Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Picasso, Dali and Gertrude Stein who gives him advice on his novel. Most importantly of all he meets Adriana, (Marion Cotillard) the *fictional* lover of Picasso. She's a dreamer too who yearns for La Belle Epoque. I know the time travel aspect sounds dubious but it's testament to Woody Allen's skill as a film maker that, not only does it work, but he subtly suggests it's a manifestation of Gil's unhappiness as he tries to work out a solution to his problems.
There was also a great cameo by Carla Bruni, Sarkozy's missus and the first lady of France.
I won't say too much more about the plot because I wouldn't want ruin the film for you but the film left me on a high. It's about the nature of love, about nostalgia, about yearning for something better.
The clothes, both in the present day and in the 1920's were breathtaking.
Image via http://www.bonjourparis.com
At times I found my breath catching at the exquisite detail on the 1920's clothing.
In many ways though, Paris was the real star of the show. It was clearly the Paris that only really exists in tourist brochures but no matter, it was beautifully & sumptuously shot and left my heart singing at the sheer beauty of it all. Shots of grim banlieues would clearly have just ruined it.
After the film, I walked back through the park and watched the sunset. A perfect end to a perfect afternoon.
You can't really see the sunset in this picture because my iPhone couldn't quite capture it.