DVD: Midnight in Paris | Film reviews, news & interviews
DVD: Midnight in Paris
Woody Allen's cute time-travel fantasy isn’t the sum of its parts
Gil Pender is in Paris with his intended and future in-laws. He wants to be a proper writer, rather than hacking for Hollywood. No one else cares about that and he’s belittled by his girl, her Tea Party father and her overbearing American friend who just happens to roll up. Strolling off on his own, midnight strikes, he climbs into a car and is transported back to a golden age to hang out with Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, Picasso, Hemingway, TS Eliot and Marion Cotillard’s artist’s muse Adriana. Naturally, Gertrude Stein loves the book Gil is writing. He even gets to meet a tour guide played by Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and snare a princess at the end. But this isn’t an upside-down Cinderella, it’s Woody Allen’s most recent flight of fancy.
We’ve already seen an American abroad about to get married in Allen’s infinitely sharper Vicky Cristina Barcelona. The Paris setting echoes Everyone Says I Love You. The imagined becoming reality is an Allen perennial. Also familiar is Owen Wilson’s Gil Pender, the acme of Allen analogues. Which is fine, but he sleepwalks through the film. Supposedly a successful Hollywood scriptwriter, Pender has none of the pizzazz necessary to surviving that cut-throat world.
There are no extras on the DVD, but there are yucks. Having Sorbonne pronounced as “saw-bone” is amusing, but Michael Sheen’s pompous pseud Paul Bates declaring Versailles’s name is derived from “terrain where the weeds have been pulled” is plenty smart. So is Kathy Bates’s Gertrude Stein noting “the sound of hyenas in your ears at night when you’re trying to sleep in a tent just drives you crazy”. Less fun is the cringe-inducing farce of a scene centred on missing earrings. The film is most comfortable when the present day is abandoned. Gil’s encounter with Adrian Brody's Dali, Buñuel and Man Ray is terrific, the most well-executed scenario. As a series of set pieces Midnight in Paris’s success rests on how well they’re integrated. But with ill-fitting building blocks, Midnight in Paris is little more than a cute, frou-frou fantasy.
Watch the trailer for Midnight in Paris
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
Memories of the Holocaust, and Alfred Hitchcock's attempts to sum up its visual testimony
Charlie Lyne's enjoyable documentary celebrates the teen movie but lacks rigour
Human nature is tested to destruction in Alex Garland's Artificial Intelligence thriller
Chekhovian break-up hits higher-end Bolivian society, strangely compellingly
Period crime drama packs a quietly potent punch
Alain Robbe-Grillet's modernist, sadomasochist cinema games revived
Unenlightening day-in-the-life portrait of French national broadcaster Radio France
Vera Brittain's First World War memoir prettifies the pain
Oscar contender and sleeper success is whiplash-smart
Art-house blaxploitation with a surreal edge is seen in full after four decades
Who got tapped and sidelined in this year's Academy Award race
Clint gives a patriot super-soldier's view of Iraq, in a leanly effective combat film