Sunday, July 24, 2011

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be

If the world shifted on its axis a few months ago, it might be due to Woody Allen releasing an anti-nostalgia film.

Midnight in Paris asks the question, "Is it better to live in your own time, than one you fantasize about?"

Owen Wilson is an admitted hack of a screenwriter who travels to Paris with his fiancee (Rachel McAdams) and her wealthy parents. Wilson is trying to break with his image by writing a novel and is obsessed with 1920's Paris - the city of American ex-pats and foreign artists.

After an evening out with friends of McAdams, Wilson gets lost in the streets and is invited into a 1920 Peugeot Landaulet

Where he arrives is where the fun starts, and it reminded me of some of Allen's fiction, mainly The Kugelmass Episode.

Wilson runs into some well known characters, and offers up some wonderful throwaway lines regarding the value of Matisse paintings. He also falls in love with a muse, beautifully played by Marion Cotillard.

It's revealed that Cotillard's character wishes to live in another time as well, and people in other eras have similar wishes. In the end, some dreams are realized, others are not but there's a bit of hope for all of us.

It's the most enjoyable Allen film I've seen in years but it's not without its flaws. While lovely to look at, McAdams is way out of her comedic depth and her parents are extremely superficial. I can't see the two main characters as a couple. Wilson is perfect in the role Allen would have done himself thirty years ago.

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