It's the Oscars this weekend, and we LOVE The Oscars!! This year however, I hadn't seen any of the films nominated for Best Picture which was a bit of a shame. However, Warner Bros came to the rescue when they sent me Midnight In Paris to review as part of my rom-com package for Valentine's Day.
Directed by Woody Allen, the film tells the story of a young engaged couple, dreamer Gil (Owen Wilson) and materialistic, shallow Inez (Rachel McAdams) who travel to France with Inez's unpleasant parents who are on a business trip. Gil is a writer, fed up with his unfulfilling career in Hollywood but struggling with his first novel, who finds the ultimate inspiration in the city as he goes on midnight walks filled with fantasy. But the closer he gets to the heart of the city, the further away he gets from the woman he thought he loved.
Woody Allen embodies the charm and magic of Paris and the golden age of the Bohemian era of the '20s. Literary and artistic greats from the past are brought to life as Gil magically transports back in time night after night. He becomes involved with all these characters causing him to reassess his life. Inez accuses Gil of "being in love with a fantasy" and this becomes the theme of this movie. Searching for the Golden Age and seeking appreciation for his art becomes an obsession that changes his future and leads him to his destiny.
Why Gil time travels is never explained, but if you just accept that he does and go along with it, then you can share his journey into these bygone eras. I particularly liked his encounter with the Surrealists!
The cinematography is sumptuous, showing the sights of Paris in the romantic way we imagine and wish them to be. The script is sharp with some genuinely witty moments especially as Gil's double life alienates him further and further from reality and his fiancée. My only real problem is the casting. I love Rachel McAdams but felt she was very under-used. Owen Wilson's character seems to be the same in every film he acts in. I almost expected Marley to come bounding in at any moment wagging his tail at the sight of his master! I failed to see him as a struggling novelist willing to deconstruct his life of privilege in favour of the realisation of his Golden Age Notion. Someone with more intensity would have worked better for me. But even though I found his character unbelievable, he is likeable nevertheless.
As far a romantic comedies go, this doesn't fall into the 'laugh out loud' sub-genre. The humour is more subtle, playful and gentle. The twist in the story at the end was quite predictable, but still made you smile as Gil gets his girl. It is definitely a more intelligent 'rom-com' as you would expect from Woody Allen's directorship. One for the more mature audience, who still enjoy a touch of fantasy and romance on screen!
You can buy Midnight in Paris at Amazon for £9.99 and keep an eye out for it at the Oscars on the 26th!