10/28/11

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS - REVIEW


It seems Woody Allen films these days either hit or miss with the critics. It's like it all depends on how good the holiday was with sunny Vicky Cristina Barcelona doing surprisingly well despite its lack of any lasting impact or depth. But Cassandra's Dream and its dreary London gloom?

No thanks.

Now comes Woody Allen's Paris holiday which starts off as an obvious love letter to the famously (read: cliched-ly) romantic city (minus the homeless) but which soon takes a welcome sci-fi turn almost elevating itself to Purple Rose Of Cairo-style surrealism. Sadly the film refuses to go any deeper than its key message making it more of a cute little idea than a heartbreaking, moving, important story.

It's a welcome return to thinking-outside-the-box type films like Scoop in which the afterlife made an appearance. Here, spending midnight in Paris can literally transport you back to a simpler time: the 1920's. Where Ernest Hemingway, the Fitzgeralds and Picasso all hang out, go to fancy parties and let their imaginations run free.

This time travel thing is both a blessing and a curse as all these larger-than-life characters do add a welcome quirkiness to the whole thing but never feel real or useful. This makes the potentially touching relationship between Marion Cotillard and Owen Wilson's characters a bit underwhelming. Had the film been a bit longer maybe more character development could have taken place? Icons like Bunuel, Man Ray and Dali are thrown in more as a joke than anything else whereas if you'd had Wilson befriend F. Scott Fitzgerald and build a strong friendship between them this would have made Wilson's final decision somewhat more powerful.

That said Owen Wilson is a terrific choice here and the supporting cast clearly has a lot of fun throughout. Michael Sheen and Corey Stoll are also both spot-on. Could have done without Adrien Brody's cartoon cameo and whoever played (or attempted to play) Man Ray though.

As it stands, this is minor Allen: charming enough that it makes for an enjoyable watch and smart enough that it leaves you with an odd nostalgic feeling but ultimately more of a cute experiment than a heartbreaking romance or an intellectually challenging gem.

Still better than most romantic comedies out there at the mo but...

Carla Bruni's in it.

UUUGHHHHHHHHHNNNNNNNNNN...

*defecates*

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