Well, are you or aren’t you? A Woody fan, I mean – in the same way that much of the civilized world may be safely divided into two categories, namely those who loathe Manchester United and those who don’t but strangely hail from absolutely everywhere in the world except Manchester, there are two accepted schools of thought on the work of one Allen Stewart Konigsberg, or Woody Allen, if you will.
This writer has always loved his work as a comedian, actor, writer and director (and it’s normally best when he combines most or all of the above in a given work), but recognizes that there are those who hate him almost as much as I hate Man Utd.
Pooh-pooh to them – let them see Midnight in Paris (2011) and perhaps be convinced otherwise. Here’s hoping.
After his excursions to Barcelona and London (and given that he is no longer making movies in the US) Allen turns his attention to Paris, the city of light, city of love. Midnight in Paris (2011) draws an artistic, romantic portrait of Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) a brilliant writer who’s staying in Paris with his fiancee and her parents. Inspired by the city’s beauty, he begins writing a novel, but, as with so many of Allen’s heroes, finds true love and the real meaning of life en route.
Clearly, Wilson is here as Woody’s customary alter ego, but this is not a cliched, hackneyed imitation, but rather a nuanced, delicate and very funny portrayal of a man making his way through a surreal and fantastic journey into the past, namely the Paris of the 1920s, where he meets artists such as Hemingway, Picasso, Dali, Lautrec (an excellent Adrien Brody), and learns what life’s about.
While the latter half of the film does become somewhat repetitive, this is more than forgiveable, given this extravagant, fascinating and near phantasmagorical set-up – quite simply, a marvellous, intellectually nourishing tale of a man who is facing choices that will determine the direction of his life. Definitely not to be missed.
100 mins. In English and French.