Midnight in Paris

January 12, 2012


Like Bob Dylan before him Woody Allen’s golden period acts as a barrier to his more recent work being judged in its own right. So, just in case you were wondering, no this is not the best thing he has done since Annie Hall. It is, however, his most commercially successful and critically admired work since that era. Which shows you the other side of the coin. That even sub standard work like Midnight in Paris will be guaranteed a more compensatory consideration on the basis of it being the work of a past master.

Owen Wilson fills the Woody shaped role at the heart of this time travel tat, with Rachel McAdams as his bickering spouse and Paris as the city he loves. A successful screenplay writer he yearns to write great literature, sustaining this want with thoughts of the movable feast that was Paris in the 1920s. In reality he is at the beck and call of his bitch wife to be, her Tea Party supporting parents and poncey poseur ex (Michael Sheen) who drag him to expensive restaurants, fancy furniture stores and all the tourist sights, allowing Woody to spoil our eyes with his scrumptiously romantic shots of the city of love.

Suddenly, with no explanation, Wilson’s nighttime jaunts become a trip through time as he is whisked back to a world where Zelda and F Scott Fitzgerald rule the social roost; where Cole Porter plays in one corner, as Hemingway prattles away in another; Gertrude Stein dishes out pearls of wisdom while Dali goes on and on about rhinoceroses.

As a cast of great character actor’s (Kathy Bates, Adrian Broady, Alison Pill) flesh out these roles the whole thing is vaguely amusing and the period detail is stunning.  But it lacks bite…and a point. And the multiple romances Wilson’s Gil finds himself caught up in never really spark.

It’s perfect hangover, easy on the eye and the brain. It is also utterly forgettable.

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