I don’t know where I picked up my dislike of Woody Allen. Maybe it’s because I think he’s creepy? Whatever it is, I usually avoid his movies like the plague, so when my mom talked me into going to see Midnight in Paris with her, I told her I would be VERY UNHAPPY if he showed up in the movie.
So thank god he didn’t (show up), as that would’ve ruined a hilariously charming movie. Despite me being embarassed for Owen Wilson’s character on a regular basis (I know Wallace understands what I mean, as we’ve talked about that uncomfortable feeling that happens when you see people behaving in an awkward manner), I ended up loving the movie. It’s a reader’s dream. Almost literarily. Owen Wilson’s character (his name is Gil) is in love with Paris. He wants to move there and write a novel, but his fiancee would rather he stay in Hollywood and write screenplays so she can decorate their imagined Malibu home with expensive stuff. It’s a case of two people who don’t realize they can’t be more wrong for each other.
One night while out on a midnight walk, Gil is picked up by a car cruising by, and spirited off by his new friends Scott and Zelda. It takes awhile, but Gil finally tweaks to the fact that he’s hanging with the Fitzgeralds. And Cole Porter. And Hemingway. And on subsequent evenings, he meets Gertrude Stein (and Alice, though she didn’t offer him any brownies…I was disappointed), and Picasso, and Dali, and even Degas and Lautrec (and it took me awhile to tweak to the fact that he’d gone even further back in time for that trick).
Hemingway and Zelda were my favorites. Hemingway (played, believe it or not, by the bald detective dude from Law and Order LA) talked just like his prose, which was pretty hysterical, and poor manic Zelda was utterly charming in a doomed sort of way. There is also some gorgeous cinematography. I’ve been to Paris twice (pretty briefly, both times) and I’ve never fallen under it’s spell (I much prefer the more haphazard charms of London). But this movie does show it off quite well.
Photo by moi, 2005