Midnight in Paris (2011)

“A Beautifully Restless Look at the Human Condition” 10/10

Midnight in Paris tells a beautiful story of restlessness and creativity in life, through the eyes of writer Gil (Owen Wilson) – Bored of current life, Gil finds himself captured by nostalgia on a trip to Paris with his fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her family – and every night at midnight he finds himself strangely visiting 1920’s Paris.

Set against the romantic backdrop of Paris, the film is visually stunning: Paris itself is a wonder both on screen and in real life and the film manages to capture its natural beauty perfectly without being too cliché. The clash between modern day France and the 20’s setting that Gil visits is wonderful and has a real atmosphere of opportunity and promise, the very things that draw him into the midnight “world” in the first place. Wilson is charming as the lost writer, a refreshing and pensive difference from McAdam’s character who jars against his creative nature, drawing a deeper void between their relationship as their time in Paris progresses. Contrast is used to perfection in this in every way. Wilson’s character meets many literary greats on his midnight journey who help him write his first novel: anyone who’s familiar with the works of writers such as F.Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston) and Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll) will enjoy the many literary references throughout their conversations with Gil.

What really drew me in was the story and its raw examination of the human condition, which in itself is a fascinating topic. It looks at those things that are inherent in each and every person: in this context, curiosity, restlessness, and desire. It doesn’t try to sugar-coat it – Gil is unhappy with life and he doesn’t make any attempt to prevent himself from going in search of a new one (albeit in the past). That’s what makes this film so enjoyable, the relatability of the desire for something better – “the grass is always greener” – and the restlessness that we feel when we’re searching for that something better.

Midnight in Paris is beautiful: the story is captivating and keeps you thinking long after it’s finished. Few films manage such an honest look at the restless nature of humans, let alone done in such an intriguing style as this. Prepare to have your curiosity captured by creativity and the promise of opportunity: it may just make you feel like a midnight stroll.

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4 thoughts on “Midnight in Paris (2011)

  1. You certainly seem to have been enthralled by this film Claire. I like the sound of the idea, but I am greatly put off by the casting of Owen Wilson (in anything). I never expected to see a 10/10 review for a film that he was starring in, so perhaps I should think about watching it.
    (Might not though). Best wishes, Pete.

      • Guess I’m a hopeless loner in the Owen Wilson Camp of Acting. I love the man, especially after his suicide attempt back in ’07. It seems as if his skirmish with death has added an undercurrent of melancholy to all of his better roles–mainly The Darjeeling Limited and Midnight in Paris. I know it’s callous to say so, but I think his plunge into the dark, dark abyss of self-mutilation has done Wilson a lot of good as an actor. You see it most explicitly in his depiction of Gil, the way he yearns so relentlessly for a time that never even belonged to him. I imagine there are plenty of suicidees out there who felt as if they were born into the wrong era. Wilson’s Gil so badly wants to give himself over to the Romance, the ethereality of this midnight world of champagne soirees and rhino-obsessed surrealists, that he’s willing to sacrifice the reality that waits for him on the other side of dawn.
        I love this movie. Love Owen Wilson. Certainly love Adrian Brody as Salvador Dali–what a quick and zany inclusion to an already freewheeling bacchanal of pretentious, intellectual delight.
        This is my go-to movie. This is the movie I clench to whenever I feel under the weather or a little moody; this is the one that rights out all the rain and proves there’s something a little magical presiding over our world.
        Thanks for the review, Claire.

      • Wow I had no idea about the suicide attempt, that would probably explain why I noticed a difference in his acting, it’s a lot more raw now. I haven’t seen anything with him in for a while and I don’t normally think his acting is noteworthy but I really took to him in this. I truly loved this film, and you’re right – it’s a reminder that there is always hope out there somewhere. I guess that in itself drew Wilson to it, and explains why it feels so authentic. Thanks for letting me know!

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