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Midnight in Paris

by

Jeff Nelson

Audiences should believe the positive buzz that this film has been attracting.

Midnight in Paris
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The film Midnight in Paris has the central theme of combining fantasy and reality to create something in between. Writer/Director Woody Allen has been known for his unique filmmaking. I have never been a huge fan of his style, although I'm able to respect him and his acquired fan base. When all of the buzz was obtained during the release date of Midnight in Paris, I expected another off-the-wall film from him. I couldn't be more wrong. This is very different for Allen. He tells a simple story of self-discovery and remaining true to oneself. There are some heavier messages told through this film, but they are addressed in a very light manner. This is so different from Woody Allen's past work by focusing more on the fun factor and novelty, making it something I certainly wasn't expecting.

A small group of Americans visit the French capital for business and pleasure. A screenwriter is forced to confront the shortcomings of his relationship with his fiancée due to his magical experiences in the city beginning each night at midnight. This script is a character-driven drama/comedy that succeeds in what it strives for. The plot is quite simple as it explores themes of the past and present and what connects the two. By doing this, our protagonist learns more about himself and his goals. It's easy to sympathize with Gil, the main character. While speaking of the characters, i should mention that one big flaw is just that. They're all rather flat. All of the one-dimensional types are present. The wannabe writer, the snobbish intellectual, the demanding fiancée, the stuffy mother, and the conservative father. Putting aside the characters themselves, Woody Allen has composed a near-perfect screenplay. The dialogue is spot-on and witty. A lot of the plot points are predictable, but the movie will suck you in to the point where the predictability isn't much of an issue. Especially once we go back in time to see great names such as Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and Pablo Picasso, the story gets really intriguing. They inspire the growth in Gil and aid him in finding out more about himself as a person, as well as an artist.

Woody Allen works with a cast that is generally able to manage the characters well. However, Owen Wilson is Owen Wilson. He's one of those actors that generally plays himself in the movies he stars in. Wilson isn't terrible, but the other actors deliver more than he does. Gil is still a sympathetic character, but I believe that another actor could have done better with the character. Rachel McAdams is a perfect choice as Inez, Gil's fiancée. This isn't the first time that McAdams has played such a rude role, but she has shown that she can master this type of character. Michael Sheen is great as Paul, the snobbish intellectual. He goes even as far as arguing with a tour guide about historical facts. Sheen is very convincing in this character. Even all of the actors who perform as the historical figures do a good job. Marion Cotillard is a fantastic actress who has proven it yet again as Adriana. For the most part, the cast does well with this well-written script.

Midnight in Paris obviously takes place in Paris. While I haven't been there myself, the imagery is absolutely beautiful. After seeing this movie, moviegoers will get a large urge to plan a trip to Paris. The movie shows what a gorgeous place it is, both in the past and the present. Those who watch the movie on Blu-ray will see the wonderful clarity in everything from the wet pavement to the leaves and tress. Just because the film doesn't offer action, don't count it out in the visual department. The costumes shown during the 1920s are marvelous and very realistic. The film doesn't call upon needing a full surround sound mix, so Sony Pictures opted for a DTS-HD Master Audio 3.0-channel track. It proves to be just fine for this movie. The dialogue is always easy to hear and the airy notes spread very nicely across the front stage. The audio doesn't miss out very much from not having a dedicated LFE channel as the front speakers handle it with great clarity. Prepare to be immersed by the beautiful scenery of Paris.

Audiences should believe the positive buzz that this film has been attracting. It's just as marvelous as so many people have said. The simplicity in the story is nice despite the flimsy characters. Midnight in Paris constantly switches between the 1920s and the present and remains engaging throughout. The film gives us the protagonist, who is likable and very easy to identify with. Despite my doubts, this is one of the more pleasant surprises of 2011. Even though I'm not a fan of Woody Allen, this is a fantastic movie. If you aren't a big fan of his either, you should still give this motion picture a chance. Midnight in Paris is a meaningful and beautiful venture that shouldn't be missed.

My Rating = Four and One Half Stars

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