I have recently watched “Midnight In Paris”, the film that Woody Allen directed in 2011. It has cemented my passion for his work all over again.
Its tourist-like beginning reminded me a bit of “Vicky, Christina, Barcelona” and, in a way, of the initial moments of all his other European films that introduce the idyllic, sleepy setting before he hits his characters with a dramatic storm. This time, however, it was a bit boring and disturbing to watch well-off tourists walk through Paris and opinionate on what it best has to offer or argue about the details of the lives of his artists and works of art. The epitome here has been the contradicting discussion that Gil (Owen Wilson) has with the pseudo-intellectual Sorbonne professor around one of the sculptures of Rodin; fortunately, Carla Bruni was there in the role of the informed and sympa museum guide and diplomatically defused the situation.
Still, I would have switched off “Midnight in Paris” and thought something had happened to Mr. Allen had the film continued on the same tone.
Luckily, Gil escapes the dinners with his fiancée’s family and visits to museums and goes on a walk through the streets of Paris late one night. Just by himself. He said he needed the time for inspiration; I think he craved the walk to feed his soul. Lost on the streets of Paris, he rests on the steps of a building when an old car stops and he is invited in…
In an amazing twist of the plot, he embarks on a trip back to the Paris of the 1920s and finds himself in a restaurant conversing with none others but Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso. Later on, he meets Gertrude Stein and Salvador Dali and has the opportunity to live the dramas and stories of their times.
I believe it is the dream of each artist or of each person in love with the arts to see the past of a city return to life. The times I have walked through the streets of French cities and asked myself “Who lived here 100 years ago?”, “What were they like?” are not few.
Apparently even the characters of the Parisian life of the 1920s wanted to escape to a past that they regarded as the Belle Époque. This is the case of Adriana (Marion Cotillard), who wanted to withdraw to the Paris of the 1890s, pursue her dream and leave behind her complicated love life.
Disappointed by her choice to choose another time span, when he was ready to leave his present for her, Gil chooses present – day Paris and decides to give the city a try. And just when he was ready to walk the streets of Paris by himself, the city opens a door on present opportunities and introduces him to a beautiful French girl.
There are so many nuances in this film that it is difficult not to like it. From the quest to do what one truly dreams of and loves to going back in time and speaking to the grand masters themselves; from resolving to focus on the present to receiving all that it has to offer; from walking on the streets of Paris and stepping back in time to meet and sit across the table from Ernest Hemingway or Salvador Dali and ask them why they created the way they did. Show-stopping.