Cannes 2011 Review: Woody Allen's Latest Movie 'Midnight in Paris'
by Alex Billington
May 11, 2011
Wow this was good. I've only been getting into Woody Allen recently and have been let down by some of his recent films, like You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger last year and Scoop from 2006. However, that changes again, as Woody is back and better than ever with his new film Midnight in Paris, which is premiering at the Cannes Film Festival today as the opening film. It's a great fit for a Cannes opener, as not only is it a love letter to Paris, the heart of France, but it's filled with numerous fantastic French actors as well as plenty of talented American and British actors. And I must say, I think it's Allen's best film in years.
Midnight in Paris is not at all what I expected - but that's exactly why it's so good. Despite seeing a trailer a few months ago, what they don't hint at (and this can be considered a spoiler, so watch out) is the fairytale time travel-esque element of the story. We're introduced to Gil (Owen Wilson) and Inez (Rachel McAdams), a newly engaged couple on vacation in Paris with Inez's parents, who don't like Gil. Late one night, Gil takes a stroll and right as midnight rolls around, a vintage car pulls up with a group calling at him to "get in." He does and they drive off, and we find out he's been transported back in time to 1920s Paris.
It's not a Hollywood sci-fi gimmick or anything like that, it's part of the fairytale fantastical nature of the story. He just gets in the car and he's there. Gil, a Hollywood self-described "hack" screenwriter, is working on a novel but is so unsure of his own abilities he won't even let his fiancee read it. When he finds himself transported back to the 20s, the first people he meets are Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald - yep, that one. They introduce him to Hemingway. Gil just about faints. Throughout the course of the film, he encounters many iconic historical artists by chance, ranging from Picasso to Matisse to Dali. And it's such a fun experience to watch Wilson encountering them, as they're his idols and he doesn't believe he is meeting them either.
It's just an amusing, whimsical, charming film that is incredibly fun to watch. I found it not only fascinating, but entertaining to see Gil interact with all of these historical figures and his astonishment every time he would come across another one. It's obviously not meant to be historically accurate, and it's that exact fairytale feel that it made it so enjoyable. Maybe I just love seeing these kind of time travel concepts, especially executed so simply, yet so delightfully - in a typical Woody Allen fashion. Plus, it is truly a love letter to Paris, and I already found myself wishing I could/wanting to spend more time there after it ended.
If you haven't been interested in Woody Allen much recently, this is a film that I highly suggest checking out anyway, mostly because it's a joy to watch. You're guaranteed to smile everytime another historical figures makes an appearance. And the scenes with Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali and Tom Hiddleston (my favorite actor from Thor) as Fitzgerald are all fantastic. Those two bring a certain charisma to the characters that, although I have no clue if that's how they really acted in real life, were Woody Allen creations that I was thrilled to watch on screen anyway. What a wonderful way to start the festival as I totally loved this film.
Alex's Cannes Rating: 8.5 out of 10