Reviewed by: Julia Webster
|Featuring:||Owen Wilson … Gil
Rachel McAdams … Inez
Michael Sheen … Paul
Kathy Bates … Gertrude Stein
Marion Cotillard … Adriana
Adrien Brody … Salvador Dalí
Kurt Fuller … John
Mimi Kennedy … Helen
Nina Arianda … Carol
Carla Bruni … Museum Guide
Televisió de Catalunya (TV3)
Letty Aronson … producer
|Distributor:||Sony Pictures Classics|
Woody Allen’s latest film is, in my opinion, one of his best. The story centers around Gil, the “Allen alter-ego” character we often find in Woody Allen’s films. Owen Wilson, in an excellent performance, plays Gil, a discontented screenwriter who feels he is just a “Hollywood hired hand.” Rachel McAdams, plays Inez, Gil’s fiancee. The two are visiting Paris with Inez’s parents.
Woody Allen has always been known for his love of Paris, art, and music. With “Midnight in Paris,” he invites us to love them, too, as he makes them all characters in the film. The exterior shots of Paris are wonderful, and Allen uses many unusual camera angles to show the famous landmarks. Many other films that are set in Paris use the Édith Piaf song, “La Vie en Rose,” but Woody Allen actually shows Paris as a “rose-colored life,” through his inspired cinematography. The soft colors, nighttime sequences, and rain, all lend the film the allure and mystery that makes it so enjoyable. Allen’s wonderful soundtrack includes lots of jazz and others songs from the 1920s.
During the film, Gil finds a way to step back to the 1920s, where he feels life must have been much more happy and fulfilling. Gil’s experience with the many famous faces of 1920s Paris will have you digging into your memory for the names of authors, painters, and musicians you thought you had forgotten; art history buffs will love this movie! I enjoyed jumping from one character to the next, trying to stay ahead of all the names Woody Allen introduces in the film.
While Gil enjoys his time in 1920s Paris, he meets Adriana, played by Marion Cotillard, a beautiful woman who had been a lover of painters like Picasso, Braque, and Modigliani, and whom Picasso supposedly used as a subject in one of his famous paintings. Adriana longs to go back to the “La Belle Epoque,” 1890s Paris. When Gil and Adriana get the chance to visit Maxim’s and the Moulin Rouge during the 1890s, they meet another group of famous artists who long to go further back to the Renaissance.
Through the course of the film, Gil comes to see the shallowness of his life with Inez, who treats Gil disrespectfully throughout the film, even to the point of having a brief love affair. Inez doesn’t understand “the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4). She would have been wise to listen to Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Along with Inez, we should remember the fruits of the Spirit, as listed in Galatians 5:22—“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
In the end, Gil sees he is not the only person to feel that the present is dull and that he would be happier in the past. He learns that the contentment he thought he’d find in the past was only an illusion, that it can be unsatisfying, too, because life can be unsatisfying. Gil wants to learn to have joy living in the present, and the film ends on a promising note, with Gil’s walk in the rain toward a future he will learn to appreciate.
We can learn many lessons from the film “Midnight in Paris.” We need to remember to “Rejoice in the Lord always” and to “find the peace which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:6-7). We have “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Jesus reminded us in John 14:27—”Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” In this world we will have trouble, but we can take heart that Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33).
“Midnight in Paris” is a movie to be enjoyed by all. Many will be able to compare it to a much more mature “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.”
Those under the age of 13 may not find the film interesting, and parents are cautioned, though the film is not at all offensive, that because much of the movie takes place in the past, drinking and smoking are prevalent in many of the scenes.
The only other moral issues in the film would be that Gil and Inez are openly sharing a hotel room, and that we see Inez in some low-cut shirts and, at one point, wrapped in a towel. Another scene shows a group of streetwalkers, and the dialogue refers to “getting lessons” from them. There are a couple of instances of open-mouthed kissing and some mild references to sex. The only profanity is a handful of “My G*d!,” three irreverent references to Christ, and two uses of H**ll.
Overall, “Midnight in Paris” is a great film and a refreshing change from a lot of the trashy movies we are being offered lately. I highly recommend it, and feel, as Christians, we should be sure to patronize films of this quality. The movie provides a lot of topics for discussion with our children and other family and friends, both with its “history” and with the final moral of the story.
Violence: None / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.