Kathy Riordan

Kathy Riordan
Florida, United States
April 27
One woman's view of life and the universe. Follow @katriord on Twitter.


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JUNE 11, 2011 7:45AM

La Vie en Woody Allen: Midnight in Paris

Rate: 19 Flag

Midnight in Paris Movie


I love two things: Paris, and Woody Allen movies.

It was clear from the open scenes in "Midnight in Paris" that this was a love letter to the City of Light in the same way his "Manhattan" was a love letter to that island.  We see Paris the way those of us who love it remember it, the way Woody Allen pines for it, filled with romance and yes, rain.

Woody Allen in this movie is Gil Pender (Owen Wilson), a screenwriter from California who has made a good living in Hollywood churning out scripts, writes and rewrites, but longs to write a novel.  He's in Paris with his fiancee Inez, tagging along with her parents on a business trip.  More than anything, he wants to leave California behind and move to Paris to write that novel and walk in the rain.

Inez will have none of it.

This becomes apparent in the first few minutes of the film, when we meet them in Giverny strolling the gardens, tight in on a kiss overlooking the pond, and she reminds him they've got to run to meet her parents in the city for dinner.  Gil wants to not only live in but savor every moment, sidewalk cafes and Pernod and curiosity shops; she wants to be dashing off somewhere else.  



The lush landscape of Giverny provides the perfect setting for a kiss, even an aborted one.


Her parents embody everything that Woody Allen disdains, wrapped up in Tea Party conservatism and American Francophobia.  Inez' father is there to seal a big corporate merger but doesn't like the French; her mother, a decorator, constantly reminds Inez that "you get what you pay for" and that some things are just "cheap cheap cheap."  She's referring to Gil and not just furniture, it soon becomes clear, and although the parents know he makes a good living, they're not so sure he's steady enough for their daughter.



The insufferable prospective in-laws, who decide Gil needs to be followed by a private investigator after he starts disappearing on midnight strolls.  


Gil sees Paris through the lens of the Jazz Age, 1920's in Paris, and wants to be a part of that Paris and walk in the rain.  When he stumbles onto a way to do that on a midnight stroll, his world is forever changed. 

We recognize familiar characters in the landscape of Woody Allen movies, including the pseudo-intellectual who wants to show them Versailles and pontificate over paintings, women who are soft, lovely, subtle, strong, overbearing and even disturbed.



The Eiffel Tower might be in the background and the sky ribboned in pink, but Inez and her friends are more interested in the oakiness of their wine. 


Above all, this is a writer's movie inhabited by the writer's heroes, confronting the writer's greatest fantasies, to be edited by Gertrude Stein, break bread with Hemingway.

Rachel McAdams plays Inez, with fine performances by Kathy Bates, Marion Cotillard, Adrian Brody, and a lovely cameo by Carla Bruni, the current first lady of France.   There are many who think the casting of Owen Wilson was a dissonant choice for the Woody Allen stand-in; I thought it was inspired.  "Midnight in Paris" opened Cannes this year and provided Sony's, and Woody Allen's, biggest opening ever.



Carla Bruni, as a Parisian tour guide, answers Gil's question about whether a man can love both a wife and a mistress. 


Noteworthy in this film is that there seems not to be a cell phone or a computer anywhere, just a world of books and handwritten manuscripts, Cole Porter music and beautifully furnished rooms.  I'm fairly certain there's not even a single instance of "La Vie en Rose" on accordion.  We're reminded near the end that above the brooding and melancholy, Woody Allen is, above all, hilariously funny.

We know it's all fantasy, but damn, it's a good one.  I'm with Gil.



Gil contemplates his fate from the luxury of a Paris hotel room. 


Gil has dinner with his girlfriend and future in-laws in Paris, and tells it like it is.


Woody Allen interviewed in Cannes with trailer intermixed. 
On the Web:
Midnight in Paris - Official Site 
Midnight in Paris (review) - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times (contains spoilers)

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I love Paris, too. Woody Allen I sometimes love, never hate. But I can't wait to see this one. I've always found the premise of escaping to some golden time in the past irresistible.
Your review makes me want to see the movie. I used to love Woody Allen movies, but can't remember the last time I saw one! ~r
You mentioned this on Facebook and since we just came back from an extensive European adventure, I talked my husband into going to see it. We are not big Woody Allen fans, not even French lovers, but enjoy literature, art and romance. We found this a likable imaginative romp, the costumes lush, the ideas and conversations almost like pieces of art at times, themselves. You are right Inez was insufferable but no more so than other pompus rich who seem more than adequately portrayed in her on screen parents, who smack of some very people we know...

Needless to say, Kathy, thank you for the heads up on this film, it was a piece of something different, romantic and enjoyable.
Another Francophile here. If they told me I had one day left to live, I'd get on a jet, fly to Paris, find a chair in the Luxemborg gardens and sit there til I fell over dead. À bientôt.
This looks like another Woody Allen hit! I fell in love with his movies during college days. Great review!
My husband is a die hard Woody Allen fan. Thanks for this one- I'll share it with him.
this sounds so much better than the movie trailers i saw on television. i would watch this in a heartbeat.
We might go see this instead today .This looks wonderful.
Oh, yes, and. . .rated PG-13, no violence, rough language or nudity, and running time of less than two hours. Although you can take children to it, I don't know why they'd like it. It's clearly a movie for adults with at least some basic frame of cultural reference. Those who've never heard of F. Scott Fitzgerald or Alice B. Toklas should probably check out one of the many action flicks instead.
Thank you for this review. I want to see it now more than I did before. Kudos to Woody for another great movie. He is an original.
I never miss a Woody Allen film--and Paris to boot. Thanks for posting this , Kathy.
I will have to see this. I've loved many Woody Allen movies and this looks great. I also think Owen Wilson is so very, very cute. Never been to Paris, though I took eight years of French.
excellent review, kathy. i'm pining to see this movie, but i'm afraid it might be my undoing - telling my hubs he's coming or else, locking the door behind us, flying to the city of light to stay forever and eat bread every day from poilane. [sigh]

oh, and what greenheron said, too.
Thank you for reviewing this movie. I saw it a few weeks ago and felt that if I'd ever doubted Woody and I are soulmates, he completely confirmed that with this film. He portrays my dreams and the friends the life I wish I'd had - and the fall-backs to that (I don't want to spoil anything, but I laughed and laughed at the "antibiotics" line). Congratulations to Woody on making one of his best films in years, and thanks for writing about it.
Alysa, I agree completely. I fell in love with a very early Woody Allen and not so much in love with some of the later stuff, but we were perfectly in sync here. And yes, ditto on the antibiotics line, which really sums up the entire film.
Yes, yes, yes! I went to see this film a couple of weeks ago...even wrote about how I got in trouble at the movies that day because of OS. I too am a die hard Woody fan. My minor concentration in college was film studies and I took a Woody Allen class...fascinating guy. I think "Midnight" is his best in years. Oh, and as for Wilson in the lead, I was cool on him at first too, but he grew on me, and everyone else was perfectly cast. The fantasy characters were just splendid. Thank you Kathy.
I'm a huge Woody Allen fan too. I didn't love this movie because of the time machine stuff. But, I loved his portrayal of Americans in Paris. It's worth seeing for that alone.
Great and very thorough review Kathy. I saw it IN PARIS when it opened, and I too have a Woody Allen consciousness. So I'll take the good and the not good and this one, I agree was good. Then my Parisian friends took us to a narrow lively lane where it was a tribute to 1900 so the film felt even more dream-like.

Also, I had just read a book called "The Paris Wife" a novel about Hemingway's first wife Hadley and it all just fit. (Highly recommend this book. All the same characters are in there. Funny that Kathy Bates played Gertrude Stein with much more humor than was in the novel.)

I too did not mind Owen Wilson in the least, liked him a lot in fact whereas all my friends thought Woody should have played himself. I think he's too old for that now.

Last, I wonder what it is that makes some of us so at home with Woody? I have bumped into him a strange number of times in Manhattan, once at Elaine's when I was 40 and a looker and he was facing the woman's room and smiled!! Another time with Sun Yee during that horrid time. They looked happy together and my then husband gave him a bear hug, a very hilarious moment. Well done, Kathy!
paris is one of the few cities i'd be happy to live in.
damn, now i want to go back.
nutella and banana crepes----
stupid pyramid----
It gets a bad wrap, but I really liked "Scoop" a lot, Woody Allen's comedy from 2006 set in London with Allen (the last movie of his he's appeared in), Scarlett Johansson, Hugh Jackman and Ian McShane. Allen is actually hilarious in this movie as a mediocre magician thrust into investigating a string of murders with Johansson. "Scoop" gets a bad wrap, but it deserves another look, but it's still no "Midnight in Paris." Allen really outdid himself with that one.
No need to read Ebert's review! I am planning to see this film over the weekend. Thanks for the lovely review. Je t'aime Paris...