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By Nick of Random Ramblings of a Demented Doorknob
I have seen exactly three Woody Allen movies, including this one. I hated one (Match Point) and loved the other two (this and Annie Hall). But then again, I’m a writer and an English teacher, so already the story was enough to capture my attention. Struggling writer Gil (Owen Wilson) is with his fiancee, Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her parents (Kurt Fuller and Mimi Kennedy) on vacation in Paris. Gil wants nothing more than to explore the culture and bask in its brilliance, but is having a hard time doing so with the negative Inez and her pedantic friend Paul (Michael Sheen) in the way. So one night he goes for a walk, only to find himself transported to 1920s Paris. There he meets all sorts of famous people like Cole Porter (Yves Heck), Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston and Alison Pill), Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), Josephine Baker (Sonia Rolland), Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), Salvador Dali (Adrien Brody), and much more. But what really grabs his attention is a beautiful young woman named Adriana (Marion Cotillard), with whom he quickly grows smitten.
It’s a wonderful story, and it’s hard not to smile at least once while watching it. It helps to add to the understanding of this film if you know who these people are, but I felt even a base understanding is good enough. You might not truly get the brilliance of the jokes, such as how Hemingway speaks exactly like he writes, but fortunately the film doesn’t solely rely on things like this.
What truly drives this film is its performances. Yes, Wilson does a great Woody Allen, and McAdams is a totally despicable person. But the real fun is with the writers and artists of the past. Corey Stoll steals the show as Ernest Hemingway, and if they ever decide to make a biopic about the man, they need Corey Stoll. To me, though, the best scene is the much-too-short Adrien Brody scene. It never fails to be hilarious. But I digress.
What Woody Allen brings to this film is a love and nostalgia for the writers, artists and styles of the past. This is a theme prevalent in movies this year, also seen in Hugo and The Artist. But unlike Hugo, for instance, this never forgets you still need to accept and live in the now (I haven’t seen The Artist yet, but I’m assuming it follows more along the lines of Paris). These are love letter films, and it is unfortunate that Paris didn’t get as much love as those two front-runners–one of which is likely to win this category.
So yes, I think this film is more likely to win at something like writing (because the writing is outstanding), but will most likely miss out on Best Picture. That’s not to say it isn’t worthy, as this was one of my favorite films of the year (and to be honest, I liked it much more than Hugo). But with its competition, Midnight in Paris will have to stick with being recognized over winning.
Tags: Best Picture, midnight in paris, Random Ramblings of a Demented Doorknob