Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen movies don't strike a chord with each and every type of film fan, that's a given. This is most probably due to his very eccentric style that includes weird dialogue timing, strange plot twists and his predisposition for certain types of actors. Nevertheless, there's always a lot of excitement around each new release from the mind of this quite comical little man – Everyone waits with bated breath to see if the next will be another big hit or another unsatisfying cinematic fail.

Luckily, Midnight in Paris is definitely one of the former: It successfully boxes all the things Woody does well and scents them in a fragrance of sweet sentimentality. It is part period piece, part comedy, part drama and a few parts crazy. But in Woody's weird and wonderful head, all of this comes together quite spectacularly in a film that might leave even your more hard film nuts showing a few emotional cracks by the time the credits roll.

"But in Woody's weird and wonderful head, all of this comes together quite spectacularly in a film that might leave even your more hard film nuts showing a few emotional cracks by the time the credits roll"

A wonderfully suited cast, with slight off-beat performances brings Woody's humoristic dream of Paris to life:  Marion Cotilard, Katthy Bates, Corey Stoll, Léa Seydoux, Kurt Fuller, Alison Pill and a greatly snotty, but believable performance by Rachel McAdams. There’s a lot of chemistry between the ensemble cast and Allen uses all of his actors well to successfully imbue different historical eras with authenticity and believability.

And then of course there’s Owen Wilson. It's certainly a contested statement, but I believe this might just be Wilson's best performance as an actor – it definitely is my personal favourite and most believable one from Wilson to date. Without giving too much away, let's just say Wilson gets treated to a fair degree of twilight events that immediately shines a harsh light on some serious issues with his intimate relationship that he till date, has tried to deny. Whilst Owen comes over as a bit confused for most of the film (which is understandable if you consider what he goes through) , it is his interactions with the rest of the cast that truly gives him the opportunity to flex his acting muscles. His Golden Globe nomination is well deserved.

All of this happens on a beautiful part period, part fantasy stage that Allen brings to life in a most accomplished manner. An enchantingly fitting score, amazing set pieces and inspired costumes all work together to make the film's strange turn of events all that more believable. Allen's brilliant sense of humour helps the viewer to understand that you are not supposed to take the events too literal – rather, simply enjoy the trip that you are taken on, relishing in the film's small touches of charm and interesting use (or should we say 'abuse') of French history. All of this care makes it clear why the film was awarded with the Golden Globe for best screenplay.

But what makes Allen's latest overcome the label of simply 'great' and transcend into 'outstanding' is the clever addition of revealing social commentary that one gets presented with as you travel the lively streets of Paris: People will always fantasize that life was easier, better and more exciting in past centuries. Whilst this might or might not be true, life is about accepting the bad with the good by living with complete conviction in the 'now' of your troublesome existence. It's a great lesson and one that Allen teaches with utmost sensitivity and ample plot backing.

This is a rare gem of a story that everyone should experience.

Even non-romantics will find a lot to appreciate here.

Highlight: As Wilson realizes that his adventure is nearing its end, he shares some comforting insights on human existence.