Cannes 2011 Review: Woody Allen's Latest Movie 'Midnight in Paris'

May 11, 2011

Midnight in Paris

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

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I'm looking forward to this as well. I'm a fan of Allen's films, although I skipped You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger last year. I loved Vicky Christina Barcelona but, to me, it didn't feel like a Woody Allen film. This one just feels like a throwback to some of his earlier ensemble stuff, albeit, as you said, on the light and fluffy side. I'm dying to see Adrien Brody as Dali!

Anonymous on May 11, 2011


sounds pretty awesome, cant wait..

Nightshade on May 11, 2011


Rachel McAdams and Marion Cotillard are lovely, gorgeous, stunning and truly beautiful.

Costa on May 11, 2011


Match Point was unbelievably good! It's my favorite Woody Allen film. Vicky Cristina Barcelona was also great... hope this one is on par with them.

Anonymous on May 11, 2011


Highly looking forward to seeing this!

CastorTroy on May 11, 2011


Huge Allen fan and good to hear this is one of his better films. Just a random comment from reading some threads on other sites- I'm always surprised how many people call themselves fans of American film (I mean I realize with so many new ones coming out it's hard to see all the older acclaimed stuff) and still haven't experienced Allen's gems like Bananas, Sleeper, Love and Death, Annie Hall, Interiors, Manhattan, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Hannah and Her Sisters, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Husbands and Wives, Match Point, etc.

Andrew DiDonato on May 11, 2011


Does Owen Wilson bring the film down? Seems like the weak link here. Can't really act can he.

ate on May 11, 2011


The story felt interesting especial the nite scenes and music was good this is not Owens best felt woody control and yet when he was next to Marion ,Owen came put to shine. the reading in the park( translating )was ?..... Marion just beautiful and all the cast as artist Dali and Hemingway very good. I wanted more at the end a little to boring and predictable. I enjoy the time. My first critical note on a movie....I am a painter. Mr. Allen weaves a gem of a story..very woody without to much woody/nerves maybe that is what Owen was bringing in and I like Owens own nervious ways....everyone just go see this movie it is enteraining and charming. Ann

Agredmond44 on Jun 4, 2011


When is this showing in our cinemas?

eva on Jun 13, 2011


I saw it over the weekend -- Great entertainment! I loved it.

Frani on Jun 14, 2011


This was one of the 10 worst movies I have seen.  It was predictable, dull and whiny.  I used to love Woody, but he is a one trick pony.  Every movie is ultimately about avoiding death and unhappiness with the present and his romantic tribulations.  There was nothing at all entertaining about listening to Owen sound exactly like Woody or the Diane Keaton clone.  Do NOT waste your money on this bomb.

Dr. AMF on Jul 5, 2011


Just saw "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" TODAY! Wonderful English-style comedy, simple yet fantastic story line, nothing intellectual, just basic pleasure. SO, SO, SO different from all the simplistic Pixar, Disney etc. action films all made from one and the same recipe since Matrix (that was great). Woody Alllen just about always saves the day from the lowest common denominator of most all US films! So looking forward to Midnight in Paris in a few days too!!!

Amco on Aug 10, 2011


This film is totally boring.... Yes, it does show an interesting view of Paris during a special time.... but so what?  There is no meat to this film.... Just a Yank roaming around meeting dead artists.... and he doesn't even get into any kind of great discussions with these people... It is shallow and very disappointing.... by the way, I lived in Paris for 5 years (I did high school and part of my Uni there - am fluent in French... so I know the place well...)

Segni8588 on Dec 26, 2011

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