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Film review: Midnight in Paris


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Midnight in ParisMidnight in Paris is an un-self-conscious love letter to Paris that tries to make fun of our obsession with the past whilst falling into the same trap itself. It does nothing to revitalise the tired Paris-is-for-lovers-and-artists cliché, and whilst the end result is beautifully filmed and undeniably sweet, it’s also just a little trite and – for a film about love - lacking in emotional depth.

Woody Allen has reached that point in his directorial career where he can make whatever crap he likes and be sure of a warm reception – the film has been released to all-round positive reviews and box-office success.  

Midnight in Paris is gleefully silly - a film that features Dali, Hemingway, Zelda and F Scott Fitzgerald, Picasso, Toulouse Lautrec, Rodin and Degas amongst others would be hard-pressed not to be. It is hard, however, to imagine many other directors getting away with such a self-indulgent and downright obvious film.

Its ‘insight’ (although as Owen Wilson’s character Gil realises in a rare moment of semi-intelligence, it may be ‘just a little one’) is that of the dangers of living in the past. Wilson’s character literally tries this, returning to his idealised vision of Paris in the 20s, but ultimately realises that no era is perfect or free of those wishing to escape, upon which he returns to the present and conveniently falls in love with some perfect Parisian girl.

The characters – Wilson’s bumbling American in Paris, his bitch-of-an-incompatible-fiancée Rachel McAdams and her overbearing, Tea Party-supporting parents, portrayed by Mimi Kennedy and Kurt Fuller – are well-played but one-dimensional. Marion Cotillard is alluring as ever, playing the 1920s love interest of Picasso, Hemingway and Gil, and the ill-fated relationship between her and Gil is one of the sweeter parts of a shallow film.

Many critics have praised Midnight in Paris as Allen’s return to form. It would be difficult to watch and not be left with a smile on your face, and Paris, as ever, performs beautifully. It is an enjoyable film, but for all its intellectual pretensions it is ultimately little more than rom-com fluff.

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