Films that involve time travel rarely bode well. Unless you are producing a Disney cartoon, successfully weaving reality with the supernatural element of time travel is about as difficult as trying to squeeze toothpaste back into its tube – near impossible and almost always, a complete disaster. Take The Time Traveller’s Wife for example; what worked so beautifully in text was ultimately ruined in cinematic form. The same can be said about the awful re-make of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine in 2002, starring (of all people) Samantha Mumba. Surely, only text can convey the unnatural and make it believable… or can it?
Midnight in Paris is Woody Allen’s latest supernatural comedy of two Americans in Paris. Gil (Owen Wilson) and Inez (Rachel McAdams) embark on a romantic business trip to Europe after their engagement, only to find themselves navigating the dual obstacles of intrusive parents-in-law and Inez’s smug, pseudo-intellectual friend Paul. Gil, a dreamy Hollywood scriptwriter, becomes unsatisfied with his idyllic life with the beautiful Inez and takes off into the night in search of something more.
As the witching-hour strikes, Gil does not, as one might think, turn into a pumpkin, but rather embarks on an adventure back to the 1920s, into an era that nostalgic Gil so yearns to be a part of. As Gil cavorts around Paris with the likes of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, you can’t help enjoy watching his naïve modern personality intermingle so easily with the great American literary heroes of the past. Whilst a predictably unrealistic concept, Allen’s witty dialogue and timeless charm pulls Midnight in Paris back from turning into a cheesy vacuous wash-out.
An award should be given to the casting director, however, who does a spot-on job with casting such famous figures with perfect precision, including Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein, Adrien Brody as Salvador Dalí and Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway.
For those who like to indulge in nostalgia themselves, and don’t mind a bit of classic romantic-comedy predictability, then Midnight in Paris is just what you’ve been looking for. Beautiful moonlit Parisian streets, glittering flapper dresses and intriguing characters are plentiful. Whilst film critics may feel it lacks the depth of Allen’s older classics, Midnight in Paris has all the whimsical charm you could ask for from a modest, light-hearted comedy.
Watch if… you like era-hopping, mildly cheesy (more Edam than the full Stilton), romantic comedies with a vintage twist.
Avoid if… twee romances and unbelievable plotlines are not your thing.
Watch the trailer for Midnight in Paris here.