Midnight In Paris is an enjoyable, but essentially strange film. It has an odd dreamlike quality that lingers even after leaving the cinema. Owen Wilson plays a successful Hollywood scriptwriter who has not let go of his ambition of writing novels in Paris. When visiting the city with his fiance (Rachel McAdams) and her parents, he becomes drawn into the mysterious world of the 1920’s, getting the chance to meet his long dead literary idols.
Unusual premise aside, it is an interesting watch. The glamorous, champagne soaked scenes are well written, with a hilariously straight faced Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll) and a ridiculously surreal Salvador Dali (Adrien Brody) rubbing shoulders with our perplexed 20th century hero. The cast is impressive and varied, with Katy Bates, Marion Cotillard and even Carla Bruni joining in the fun. Rachel McAdams is convincing as the self-centered headache of a fiance, and Michael Sheen is brilliant as her pretentious friend who audiences will love to hate.
Overall it is a funny film, and Owen Wilson captures these moments with good comic timing as his character mumbles his way through confusing events. However the laughs are very high brow, and those who know more about art and literary history (or are over forty, like the majority of people in the cinema) will benefit more. Halfway through the film the time travel becomes slightly ridiculous, and the film seems to loose its momentum, yet it retains its general charm.
Of course, being a Woody Allen film, there are a lot of lingering shots of Paris streets set to french music as he attempts to capture the “tension, culture and physical beauty” of the city. It would not be complete without an intellectual message, and he questions the nature of nostalgia and the way in which every generation romanticises the past. Mainly I came away from the cinema grateful that Allen did not use a voice over (like in Vicky Christina Barcelona) and with the knowledge that whatever century you are in, everyone is attracted to Marion Cottilard. An entertaining film with a great ensemble cast that is well worth watching, but be prepared to feel slightly uncultured.