Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Midnight in Paris (2011)

An absolute delight for romantics, the latest Woody Allen picture concerns a hack screenwriter who, while on vacation in Paris, begins to take nightly walks through the streets in search of inspiration. What happens on these walks, an element graciously ignored by the majority of the promotional materials, I would not dare to spoil; what I can reveal is that the film is a meditation on the nature of art and art worship, in relation to the writer's deep, age-old reverence of the city of lights and the plethora of early 20th-century thinkers who made it their nesting ground. Owen Wilson plays the lead with a delicate balance between the typical Allen doppelganger and his usual shlubby, take-it-as-it-comes demeanor; it is nothing we have ever seen from Wilson or an Allen lead, and it is his career-best lead performance. Needless to say, considering this is a Woody Allen film, the cast is exemplary; aside from Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Tom Hiddleston, Michael Sheen, Kurt Fuller, Adrien Brody, Kathy Bates, and Marion Cotillard all show up with terrific results, especially McAdams, Cotillard, and Brody's sly, winning cameo. There is the usual romantic difficulties, revolving around differences in intellectual values and careless infidelity, sure, but the greater concern of the film is something more elusive and unconventional, and that is the ideal state for the creative mind. This sort of subject matter is rather exclusive and, dare I say, intellectual for most audiences, but for those who can appreciate the literary and artistic references, the dry, dense dialogue, and the devoutly romantic portrayal of Paris, the film creates a distinct mood and sense of joy that, I suspect, will not be found in any other American film this Summer.

Highly Recommended for fans of Allen, romantics, and junkies for early-20th century art and literature such as Picasso, Hemingway, or Cole Porter (whose "Let's Do It" plays a prominent role). I was fairly certain Whatever Works was going to be the last great film from Mr. Allen; upon leaving the theater, I could not remember the last time I was so happy to be so wrong.

No comments:

Post a Comment