Woody Allen is one such director, but his career has been hit or miss lately. Director (and most times leading man) of films such as Crimes and Misdemeanors, Manhattan Murder Mystery, Manhattan, Match Point, and, of course, the classic Annie Hall; today he’s kind of all over the map. While he’ll make the occasional good movie (Vicky Christina Barcelona) he’d follow it up with a few bad ones (You’ll Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, which, by the way, absolutely nobody saw). And even his occasionally good movies often don’t live up to classic status.
However, I am proud to report that while his recent effort Midnight In Paris might not exactly reach that classic status, it is easily the best recent Woody Allen film to release so far. It’s a whimsical, life-affirming, joyous odyssey into…I can’t say.
Midnight In Paris is an interesting case in that it is probably best described as this year’s Catfish. A film that doesn’t deserve to be spoiled to anyone who’s even remotely interested in seeing it, because part of the whimsy in viewing it is the pleasure of surprise. By the time it reaches the 10-minute mark the viewer is treated to a radical shift that is all the more engrossing by the fact that you have no preconceived notions of its premise. Too often are we bombarded with advertisements for high-concept comedies that use it’s ridiculous premise as the main shtick, without putting any effort into genuine humor or developed characters. It’s just very refreshing to come into a film that not only surprises you with its high-concept for once, but also uses is it as a way to bring genuine humor and character development.
So, no, I won’t spoil you guys or give out a plot synopsis like I normally do. So here’s the non-spoiler, shortened version: Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams play a couple who visits Paris and is confronted with the feeling that a better life awaits them. Owen Wilson’s character, Gil, is mainly there for inspiration for his first foray into literature; hoping that the same place that had inspired such artists as Salvador Dali, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway, would give him a way to break his writer’s block. Soon, as he begins to take midnight strolls in the deepest regions of the city, he starts to see Paris in a much, much different light. It may not sound like there’s much to spoil by that premise alone, but when you actually see the film, you’ll understand.
What I will say is that we have one hell of a cast. Owen Wilson plays a remarkably charming lead that reminds us why he can be so infectiously charming when he puts the right amount of effort into his job. His protagonist is just filled with a zest for life and wonder when he visits the City of Lightsl that you automatically warm up to him. Rachel McAdams plays his girlfriend, Marion Cotillard plays a seductive Parisian woman, Kathy Bates is a wise old woman who gives Owen Wilson much needed advice on his book, Michael Sheen plays a wonderfully snobby git, and Adrian Brody has a hilarious cameo.
All of this and Woody Allen’s sharpest writing in a long while make for one of the best feel-good movies of the year. The film’s humor is subtle and understated (Don’t expect The Hangover or Bridesmaids) but still brings surprisingly heavy laughs thanks to the delivery of its excellent cast, and the absolutely charming atmosphere all around. Add that with wonderful chemistry between the film’s main couple, and it’s just the kind of movie that brings a huge smile to your face all the way through.
That’s about all I can say. Reviewing comedies is normally hard because you don’t wanna spoil any of the good jokes, and this review is hampered even more by the fact that I wish not to spoil the plot to anyone. So, here’s the…
Final Verdict: Midnight In Paris is one of the most all-around enjoyable films of the year. It’s funny, charming, filled with great performances all around, and just an all-around wonderful romantic comedy, and a beautiful homage to the City of Lights that is Paris. It’s now received a nation-wide release so you should all check it out, especially for Woody Allen fans.
That’s all for now.
See ya next time. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to [OMITTED DUE TO SPOILERS] [OMITTED DUE TO SPOILERS] [OMITTED DUE TO SPOILERS] [OMITTED DUE TO SPOILERS] and then rhinoceros. Bye!