Midnight in Paris

by Dean Mattson

It’s easy to forget now, but it wasn’t so long ago that Woody Allen was almost universally respected as a brilliantly funny writer and filmmaker. He’s one of the few directors to have a comedy win an Oscar. But in the years since then, his films have become much less funny and he became involved in a personal scandal that has deeply scarred his reputation.

I went to Midnight in Paris today, somewhat against my better judgement – I’ve been burned too many times going to Woody Allen; it ‘s been decades since I’ve seen one that I’ve liked. But was I ever surprised! It turns out Midnight in Paris is a pure delight.

The movie is about a successful screenwriter (played by Owen Wilson) whose written his first novel but doesn’t trust anyone enough to let them read it. He has come with his fiancĂ© to Paris, a city he’s in love with for its illustrious literary and artistic past more so than what it is today. Totally unexplained, he finds himself transported back to the Paris of his dreams whenever he stands at this one particular street corner at midnight. He meets a lot of famous names, falls in love and learns to trust himself as a writer and as person.

Extremely ingenious, the movie has this sweeping romantic nostalgic vibe but very smartly undercuts at the end. Owen Wilson has the best role of his career so far. He completely makes us by the film’s concept – it’s those scenes in the past where you can see him come alive for the first time and we see the excitement and wonder in his eyes.

Midnight in Paris is finally a Woody Allen movie that lives up to his old reputation – funny, clever and wise. Highly recommended.

Also worth seeing:

Super 8, the kind of movie you wish Steven Spielberg would have made more of after Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T.

Bridesmaids – although it’s the gross-out scenes that got all the attention, it’s the honesty and realism of the characters that keep it grounded and the cleverness of the best of its comedic set pieces is what you’ll remember.