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Movie Review

Midnight in Paris

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sexual references and smoking.

Reviewed by: Julia Webster

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Fantasy Romance Comedy
1 hr. 34 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
May 20, 2011 (limited)
DVD: December 20, 2011
Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics

golden age of famous authors, artists, composers and singers

time travel

French stereotypes

TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Sex, Love and Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.
Featuring: Owen WilsonGil
Rachel McAdamsInez
Michael SheenPaul
Kathy BatesGertrude Stein
Marion CotillardAdriana
Adrien BrodySalvador Dalí
Kurt Fuller … John
Mimi Kennedy … Helen
Nina Arianda … Carol
Carla Bruni … Museum Guide
more »
Director: Woody Allen
Producer: Gravier Productions
Televisió de Catalunya (TV3)
Versátil Cinema
Letty Aronson … producer
more »
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Copyrighted, 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.

The excellent cast includes some wonderful acting by Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein, Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway, and Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali.

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.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—“Midnight in Paris,” Woody Allen’s latest movie, which he wrote and directed, is a very enjoyable film about an aspiring writer, played amazingly well by Owen Wilson, who goes on a trip to Paris with his fiancee and her parents. Gil (Wilson) falls madly in love with Paris and everything the city has to offer, including its past. He finds himself entering the Paris of the 1920s through a fantasy subplot that works really well in this film. My suspension of disbelief was complete.

This is a sweet and charming film peopled with historical figures, come to life, who are Gil’s inspiration and fascination. This movie left me smiling at the end.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average, Moviemaking quality: 5
Halyna Barannik, age 65 (USA)
Positive—I really enjoyed this film. It was a nice, quiet, rainy-day sort of movie. I liked the messages about learning to be content with world you live in; which, as a lover of fantasy, is something I struggle with. Another thing I liked about it was that I never knew what to expect… its originality was refreshing. Overall, I’d give it a thumbs up.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Kadie Jo, age 19 (USA)
—“Midnight in Paris” is a superb entertainment that also provides food for thought for Christians. I can think of several writers from the past who share my faith and will make the afterlife a very intriguing place.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Morris, age 47 (USA)
Positive—The movie is about the desire of modern people to live in a “simpler” time and the weakness of that way of living in the world. The characters are exploring the lives of their heroes in Paris in the French Empire period and the post-WWI era: the values were entirely anti-Christian (not just anti-legalistic religion). So Christians looking for a match with Christian values have to dig a little in this movie.

It helps a lot to have read the authors and seen the paintings of the painters who are idolized by the lead character—and a lot of Bible school Christians will not have done so. But the lead character does choose the present over the past and the possibility of real love over materialistic vain marriages for success, money and glory. He’s searching for his integrity.

I liked everything about this movie except one thing: the lead character, a full grown man, ends up with a girl who looks 15. I think Woody Allen betrays his moral weakness here: it’s sexist and mildly offensive.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Catherine Uffen, age 60 (Canada)
Positive—My family and I absolutely loved “Midnight in Paris”! It was, in my opinion, one of Woody Allen’s most artistic and enjoyable films. It is filled to the brim with charm and wonderfully, hopefully and romantic sentiments. It captures history in a bright and exciting way for young people.

“Midnight in Paris” includes fascinating and accurate portrayals of some of the 20’s great creators and presents this era in an honest way. It’s a sweet film that still manages to retain a sense of conflict and excitement. The story is weaved in a poetic way that keeps it from becoming sci-fi or cheesy. The soundtrack is beautiful and the cinematography of Paris is breathtaking. Midnight in Paris also includes wonderful moral lessons on living in the present and not always yearning for the past. The characters and rich and the acting is vibrant.

Overall, this is a movie not to be missed. Great for anyone over 10 or 11 based on their attention span and interest.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Hannah, age 18 (USA)
Neutral—I saw “Midnight in Paris” last night… the movie is laced with sexual innuendos (I mean in almost every scene), lots of drinking, and an absence of a moral absolute. Also, based on one character wearing a wedding ring (even though they never said they where married), there was an adulterers relationship which was dismissed because, “It happened in Paris”. This movie did not concentrate on these, so I rate it average, however they are there, and it’s a movie on the verge of being rated offensive. The movie also was not 5 stars quality. I know this is a low budget film, but this could have been edited so much better. Also, the acting was sub-par in the minor characters. Owen Wilson did a good job. OK movie, at best.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Aron Maberry, age 26 (USA)
Negative—Saw the film last night with my wife. Although it avoided showing graphic bedroom scenes, it still had no lack of sexual innuendo and immoral behavior (pre-marital and extra-marital relationships) written into the plot, with no comment about the wrongness of the relationships or repentance and sorrow about them.

The deeper issue was the exaltation of the secular “greats” of the early twentieth century, such as Hemingway, Dali, and Picasso who spurned Christian revelation and inserted in its place their own novel humanistic approaches to life. At one point, as the main character conversed with Stein about her review of his book, she replies that life is empty, and art is a way of trying to fill the emptiness. The worldview of the movie throughout is an attempt to portray how following one’s own desires for happiness and meaning is the most important thing in life, even if it means moving freely in and out of intimate sexual relationships with others, lying, and adjusting morality to fit the situation.

I also noticed a curious lack of children in the movie. Perhaps one or two may have showed up in the background of a shot taken around the city, but there were certainly no children in the coffee houses and haunts of the intellectuals around whom the story revolved. The lack of children portrayed alongside the abundance of free sexual relationships was an example of the extremely selfish approach that the people took toward life. The absence of children with the abundance of sex sums up the spirit of the age: live life putting the emphasis on the “I” in life… and perhaps explains why many countries in the Western world are facing near extinction in the next century due to low birth rates.

Aside from the beautiful scenes around the city, there is only a crippled attempt to show any sort of redemption, concluding the story with impression that the main character will likely spend the rest of his life on an unfulfilled search (one hopes that some day on the screen and in real life Owen Wilson will indeed discover the Lord of life who gives lasting fulfillment).
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Ron C, age 46 (USA)
Negative—I watched this film and enjoyed it, but its values are those of upper middle class New York secular Jews. That is what Woody Allen is. It is a humanist film. Whilst there is little to offend one, in view of the world today, nevertheless, it is a given that people have sexual relationships without the benefit of vows and without any real desire to mate for life. It is also a given that the Tea Party is composed of crazies. It is interesting that it is only the right wing of the GOP that is subjected to criticism. Once it would have been the whole GOP, sounds like that Obama has even disappointed Woody Allen.

Woody Allen is an incredibly gifted auteur. But do not forget, he readily gave a Playboy interview when that was edgy, and he married his de facto adopted daughter. I actually do not regard these things as wrong for him. He is entitled to his viewpoint and his faith or lack thereof, BUT Christians should beware, lest we are blinded by the dazzling, old-fashioned high technique of the cinema that is on display in his films, from analyzing the Weltanschauung which underscores the whole movie. Allen is the new Hitchcock in terms of cinematic talent, BUT that does not mean that he produces Christian movies.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—BP, age 53 (Australia)