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Midnight In Paris (2011)- A Surrealistic Romantic Comedy

Gil strolling along the river in Midnight in Paris.
Gil strolling along the River Seine. Photo Credit- Sony Pictures Classics.

Midnight in Paris (2011)  Film Review

1920’s Paris. Check. Glitzy dresses. Check. Lovebirds yet not so much in love. Check. La Belle Epoque. Check. Hemingway, Dali, Buñuel, Stein, Cocteau, Cole Porter, Fitzgeralds (whoa!!) all coming to life. Check. Frankly, if this does not draw you in, then we need to talk.

There is a reason that this is Allen’s highest grossing film ever, which is due to a mélange of facts: sharp writing, blazing literary anecdotes, a highly talented cast and the most nostalgic and dreamy cinematography of 1920’s Paris.

The Plot of Midnight in Paris (some spoilers)

The storyline revolves around a couple Gil (Owen Wilson) and his fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) who are vacationing in Paris with Inez’s parents. Gil is a successful but creatively dissatisfied Hollywood screenwriter. While Inez is wealthy and materialistic to the T., Gil loves the aesthetics of life in its simple pleasures whereas Inez is consumed in her materialistic pursuits to observe anything else. How the two of them first got together is something which is beyond my comprehension.

There is a particular scene in the movie where Gil declares to Inez that “Paris looks most beautiful when it rains” but Inez dismisses it as an irritating idea as it just creates watery streets and nothing else. Complications ensue when Gil is magically transported to the Paris of 1920’s where the city is beaming with art, music and its revered intelligentsia. The relationship further suffers when the couple is joined by Paul (Michael Sheen) and his wife Carol (Nina Arianda) who are both pedantic and pseudo-intellectual.

Related: Film Review: Scoop (2005) – Quirky Woody Allen Mystery

The Cinematography – The Dreamy Parisian Life

Gil and Adriana enjoy each other's company in Midnight in Paris
Love is in the air for Gil and Adriana. Photo Credit- Sony Pictures Classics.

The opening sequence serves as a romantic montage to The City of Love shot in its different lights and colors. The movie oscillates between the present and the past and the vibrant life of Paris is wistfully captured from the bylanes of Montmartre to the French Couture houses. The lambent cinematography is shot by Darius Khondji who has worked with stalwarts like Michael Haneke, Wes Anderson, Danny Boyle and many more.

The Costumes – The Effortless French Style

In this rich ensemble, everyone has impeccable style. Starting from the protagonist Inez, who hates everything French yet dresses very much Parisian. So is the lovely Adriana who (Marion Cotillard) looks exquisitely French with headbands and frilly dresses.

Also elevating the fashion factor is the tour guide (Carla Bruni) at Musée Rodin with her modern Parisian attire and the beautiful antique dealer (Lea Seydoux) at the flea market. The sharp attention to detail helped Allen to create this seamless split between the two eras.

The Parallel Romances

midnight in paris; streaming in october 2016
Midnight in Paris. Photo Credit- Sony Pictures Classics

The movie frames itself on romantic notions. There are parallel romances shown in the movie but none as affectionate as the romance between Adriana and Gil. As the relationship between Gil and Inez begins to crumble, a budding romance builds between Gil and Adriana. The first time Gil meets Adriana, he is immediately taken aback by her beauty and charm. Adriana though at that point of time was serving as Picasso’s mistress. Their mutual love for nostalgia and art kindles a charming romance onscreen. But unfortunately, the relationship does not end as the viewers would have wanted. As the movie closes, Gil meets a young, effervescent antique dealer (Lea Seydoux) who shares his love for art and Paris in the rain.

The Cast of Midnight in Paris

Gil meets the Fitzgeralds.
Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald. Photo Credit- Sony Pictures Classics.

Apart from stellar performances from the protagonists, the star-studded cast played their roles diligently. The cast is helmed by Tom Hiddleston as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein, Adrien Brody as Salvador Dalí, Adrien de Van as Luis Buñuel, Alison Pill as Zelda Fitzgerald and Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway.

Brody as Dali in Midnight in Paris
Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali. Photo Credit- Sony Pictures Classics.

My Personal Favorite though is Adrien Brody as Dalí because not only Brody and Dalí look eerily similar, the dialogue “I see a Rhinoceros” is as charming as it gets. Also adding a superlative charm is Adrien de Van as Luis Buñuel, who receives movie plot ideas from Gil, which later turns out to be that of Buñuel’s own 1962 film The Exterminating Angel. Overall, Owen Wilson really stands out as perfect leading man brilliantly capturing the struggle of living in fantasy and the real.

Charming, Funny, Subtle and Blazingly Romantic Midnight in Paris will make you fall in love like nothing else

Overall Thoughts

Part period drama, part sci-fi (with the time traveling part, no aliens though) Midnight in Paris is a vintage lover’s dream come true. Richly dramatized in soft pastels, the movie reminiscent of the magical properties of cinema. It also upholds Allen’s theme of infidelity, materialism, and love for all things past. The true message of this movie though is very laboring for a romcom – that nostalgia is a trap, and however alluring past can be, one should always live in the present.

Marvelously romantic and sometimes deeply moving, this movie is highly entertaining and must watch for all romantic movies fans out there.

Content Note: Rated PG-13 for some sexual references and smoking.

Available On: Available on Netflix, Amazon Video.


“You had me at hello.”

                Five heart rating

“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.

I have loved none but you.”

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By on May 23rd, 2017

About Rima

Dreamer , Reader , Believer - traits which describe her in truest way possible. Lover of period dramas and all things old fashioned , she is currently traversing the underwaters of marketing with a little help from literature . Curating her inner thoughts by writing about it all.

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