In less capable or articulate hands, this movie might have fallen completely into farce. Instead, it retains charm, humor, and originality enough to make you smile the whole ninety minutes. The story begins to defy summary, but I'll try. Owen Wilson is a Hollywood writer who has come to Paris with his fiancee, Rachel McAdams, and is inspired by the streets of Paris to work on his novel. She thinks very little of his intellectual pursuits, though loves to listen to Michael Sheen and his wife talk about cultural places and ideas. One night Wilson is drunk and takes a walk back to his hotel. After the clock strikes midnight an old-fashioned taxi appears and the partiers inside take him to a party where he meets Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald (Alison Pill - so awesome!! and a VERY likeable Tom Hiddleston, Loki from Thor). He can't really believe what he's seeing, but when he realizes it's actually Cole Porter, he basically says why not, I'm dreaming so I'll enjoy it. Later that night he meets Ernest Hemingway (perfectly captured for comedic effect by Corey Stoll) who says he'll pass Wilson's manuscript on to Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates) for her opinion.
|Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald|
The blogger formerly known as the Mad Hatter, Ryan asks guests on his podcast a series of questions. One is something along the lines of "what's a movie you wish you'd made". I still remember my own response, Out of Africa just to be a part of recreating 1930s Kenya. So perhaps my own "perfect time" would be actually experiencing 1930s Kenya. Just as in Midnight in Paris Wilson has to convince someone else that the Belle Epoch (1890s Paris) isn't in fact any more perfect than 1920s Paris, I don't need to be convinced that my own "perfect time" isn't any better than the time I'm actually living in. There's a degree of romanticism within the idea of dreaming about living in another time and place, but nearly always that dream comes with stipulations (I'd live in Jane Austen's time but only if I could be rich). And Paris shows us that if we actually live our dreams we can see those stipulations come to life and living our own lives well is a better choice than wishing for something you can't have.
This has to be my favorite Allen film ever made. The best romantic comedy made in years. 5 of 5 stars/lambs