Monday, 29 August 2011
“You’re in love with a fantasy”
Midnight in Paris: directed and written by Woody Allen
The novel, The Paris Wife opens with the effective quote “Though I often looked for one, I finally had to admit that there could be no cure for Paris.” Owen Wilson’s Gil is suffering from the same infatuation with the city. He – a screenwriter/aspiring author – and his fiancée, Inez, are in Paris for a pre-wedding vacation as he tries to work on his first novel, set to be a romantic ode to the Golden Age of the city – the roaring twenties. That fanciful appreciation for the city is not reflected in Inez and the constant appearance of her cold parents and her snooty friends keep interrupting Gil’s attempts to luxuriate in the city’s beauty. It’s in the loneliness of the night that he gets a chance to savour the Paris he wishes to know and on a midnight stroll he happens upon an antique car which takes him where his heart desires...
There’s something especially light about the film’s entire tone. It’s not the kitschy silliness of Whatever Works nor is it the idiosyncratic romanticism of Vicky Cristina Barcelona. The film’s twenties portion moves along at a mellifluous and sometimes saccharinely sweet pace which I rather believe to be an adept way of Woody suggesting the artistic projection which Gil is susceptible to. The fluidity in the twenties is in stark contrast to the deliberately uneven base which inhabits the film’s contemporary half. The film’s opening is a fine example. It’s an ostensibly picturesque image as the engaged couple embrace – an artistically perfect moments which begins to disintegrate almost immediately (never to be retrieved, not by these two at least) as the two disagree on the smallest of things.
Since the crux of the story in Midnight in Paris depends on magical occurrences of some sort, it’s a bit difficult to indict it for being outlandish. Yet, Woody seems to subvert what seems to be his ruminations on the artist and his nostalgic yearnings on two separate occasions. When Adriana enters portal to Paris of 1890 it’s a bit jarring and immediately makes the film fall just the tiniest bit limply. Her belief in the splendour of the era works, in theory, and even if the monologue Gil gives which exists as the climax is much too precise the film manages to help itself by making an effective point about artistic yearning. But, later, when Gil’s tail happens upon a medieval Paris – a scene inserted simply for broad laughter – I couldn’t help but find it objectionable.