December 12, 2011 -- One of Woody Allen's Best films in years, “Midnight in Paris” is a light, funny trip back in time which allows a writer to visit his literary heroes from the 1920s, Cole Porter, T.S. Elliot, Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and many other famous figures of the past. Written and directed by Allen, the film stars Owen Wilson (“Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian”) as a Hollywood writer in Paris on a vacation just before his marriage to Inez (Rachel MacAdams of “Sherlock Holmes”).
Gil is trying to write a novel and is feeling like he is not up to the task. He loves Paris, while Inez and her parents (who are in Paris on business) don't like the city. He is out for a walk when, at the stroke of midnight, an antique car pulls up filled with famous people from the past, who invite him to get in. He soon discovers he has been transported into the past, the 1920s. This is his favorite era and his favorite city, filled with the finest artists in the world, including Picasso, Salvador Dali, Cole Porter, T.S. Eliot, Paul Gauguin and many others. He always ends up back in the present, but each night at midnight, he again waits on the same street corner, where he again is transported back to his favorite time of history.
Gertrude Stein (played by Kathy Baker of “Valentine's Day”) agrees to critique Gil's book, he gets to party with Hemingway and Fitzgerald, among others. Gil discovers that he needs to stop playing it safe and take more chances. He begins to realize that he doesn't love Inez. They really don't have much in common. She hates Paris and he wants to live there. He also discovers that he really is a good writer and that he can make his novel into something important. Gertrude Stein tells him, “You have a clear and lovely voice. Don't be such a defeatist.”
Gil has a great time in the past, but he begins to understand that his longing for those earlier days is a mistake. He learns that every generation tends to think that the times they live in are inferior to earlier times. He needs to start living in his own time. This is a similar message to the one that Woody Allen had in his film “The Purple Rose of Cairo.” One of the best lines in the film, or of any film, really is one thrown out by Gertrude Stein, “The artist's job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.” Amen to that, Woody. This film rates an A.
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