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Friday, July 29, 2011

"Midnight in Paris", romantic search of our Golden Age

Midnight in Paris

So happy to see the maestro is back. After quite a while (wouldn't call it a long wandering in the wilderness thanks to "Whatever Works" and some glimpses of genius in "Hollywood Ending", "Anything Else" or "Scoop" saving his filmography of the new millennium) Woody Allen's returns to form with a film that has magic and tons of charm. Allen is inviting you to a very special party. An invitation to a moveable feast in the city of lights. Would you like to come? Fun is granted.

As I really encourage you to watch this film, I'll try not to spoil its argument, because revealing something will kill part of its magic. So just let me ask you one question: what if you have the chance of  living your dream?

"Midnight in Paris" has three sides. One is the comical, on which Allen's ability for one-liners finds new peaks a couple of times (the "surrealist" scene goes directly to his best-of). Second, and inevitable being Woody in Paris, is the romantic side. In here, Allen triumphs (again, 'cause is something seen before) thanks to the bewitching (only comparable, although completely different in the story, with "Manhattan") way in which he films the city (credit to his artistic team), light-years from the advertising campaign of Barcelona in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" or his London films, but in particular thanks to the plot, close to a delicious absurdity/delirium, and the "real" innocence on the characters where the love story appears. All in all, it is brilliantly summarized on a night walk by Gil and Adriana through the Parisian rain. And third side, the most substantial, is an absorbing reflection on nostalgia and the idealization of past times. Thought-provoking and even self-referential (the New Yorker's filmmaker qualifies as a nostalgic himself).

Allen explores this subject with a refreshing grace for the majority of the film, but makes the mistake of stressing too much the message he wants to give, the only life worth living is our present, in a key scene near the end. This, the weak start with an unnecessary and overlong shooting of Paris' most touristic places before we see the recurrent, trademark credits of his movies, and the poor treatment of Inez's character (Rachel McAdams), too unidimensional to be credible (doing what she does near the end), are the few aspects that prevent "Midnight in Paris" from ranking alongside Allen's masterpieces.

Because everything else is light-hearted and fascinating (music, photography, plot, rhythm). Cast helps to make the film sweet and substantial. From the secondary (on top the funniest Adrien Brody) to the important roles, where Marion Cotillard does an impersonation of the muse every artist desires full of magnetism, but also going beyond the archetypical cliché, as she has her own dreams to follow. Owen Wilson deserves a separate mention. Having the task of impersonating Allen on screen, he is the first actor that in doing so creates a different character. His Gil aspires to be a writer, but leaves aside neurosis and hypochondria to offer a genuinely romantic, dreamy and innocent character. His performance is honest, nailing the sense of wonder, surprise and adventure with just a face.

"Midnight in Paris" entertains, makes you laugh, gives some lessons (on art and about life) and connects with the public in a special, haunting way. Is the sort of film (although its minor imperfections) that makes you ingratiate not just with Woody, but with cinema, again.

SCORE: 8/10

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