Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Midnight In Paris, dir/wr. Woody Allen, st. Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard

Midnight In Paris plays as Woody Allen's playfully whimsical love-letter to Bohemian Paris in the 20s - a simmering hotbed of literary and artistic creativity, and a time that Gil Pender (Wilson) romanticises as unrivalled in its abundance of enlightened writers, poets and musicians. Sadly his wife (McAdams) and her vile parents refuse to, or simply cannot share this passion, choosing instead to treat the Parisian streets as just another themed boutique. It would be easy here to succumb to pretension and so much rests on evoking a believably alluring bygone Paris that goes beyond its beatnik picture-postcard reputation, however Allen has assembled a wonderfully eccentric troupe of troubled artistes - Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald and a great cameo from Adrien Brody as Dali - that add a much needed levity and never allow things to sink into an all-consumming self-important quagmire. I've never been a fan of Wilson, and McAdams does the most with her functional role, but the real treat is Cotillard as Pablo Picasso's mistress Adriana; exuding a sad fragility, she too feels she's too late for her time, and so she and Gil come together, a lost pair lamenting as one. The film's arguably a touch too slight and the ending's a shade contrived, but that's actually okay, for nothing could harm this beguiling fantasy more than leaden reality.