Sunday, March 4, 2012

Paris Pastime

You already know I'm a sucker for stories about time travel and alternate universes, so I'm not sure how I managed to miss the release of Woody Allen's 2011 film Midnight in Paris.  I finally got to see it on DVD last night.

Owen Wilson stars as Gil Pender, a successful screenwriter working on his first novel.  He and his fiancee Inez (Rachel McAdam) tag along with her parents on her father's business trip to Paris.  Gil is in love with the city even before he arrives; apparently he read Hemingway's A Moveable Feast and had the same reaction to it that I did - wanting to visit via time machine.  He is swept away by its charm and historic associations.  Inez, on the other hand, is more interested in the shopping, partying, and an old friend (a self-proclaimed expert on practically everything) who is a visiting lecturer at the Sorbonne.  As Inez goes dancing without him, Gil roams the streets at night looking for inspiration for his book, until he discovers an amazing secret: at midnight in Paris, for anyone who wants badly enough to visit the past, magical transportation is available.

Barry, who told me about this movie, complained that it was a rehash of Purple Rose of Cairo, and it's true that one of the main themes of both films is "the grass is always greener..."  Purple Rose, though, was more of a straight comedy; Midnight in Paris is a love letter to a wonderful city and its unique history.  If you've never been to Paris, the little cinematographic travelogue at the beginning may be enough to convince you that you should see it in person at least once before you die.  Even if it doesn't, the story was entertaining enough to win Allen a Best Original Screenplay Oscar.  If you haven't seen it yet, check it out soon.

"That Paris exists and anyone could choose to live anywhere else in the world will always be a mystery to me."  ~Adrianna, a character in Midnight in Paris

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