Making the Grades
Whether or not you enjoy Director Woody Allen’s artsy style of filmmaking, you have to admit he has hit on a human condition in his movie Midnight in Paris. Like many people, Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) believes life would be better if he had lived at a different time. The Hollywood scriptwriter and aspiring novelist is on vacation with his fiancée (Rachel McAdams) and her parents (Kurt Fuller, Mimi Kennedy) in Paris. Charmed by the history-steeped city where writers, artists and their lovers mingled during the 1920s, Gil longs to be part of that enchanted era.
Then one night after an evening of wine sampling with Inez and her friends, Paul and Carol (Michael Sheen, Nina Arianda), Gil opts to walk back to the hotel while his fiancée and her pals go dancing. Suffering from the effects of too much alcohol, Gil becomes lost and sits down to rest on a set of steps. A few minutes later an antique car full of passengers pulls up in front of the stairs and invites Gil to join them.
After arriving at their destination, Gil steps out of the car to find himself transported through time and in the company of Cole Porter (Yves Heck), Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Alison Pill, Tom Hiddleston), and Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll). On subsequent evening outings, he meets Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), Salvador Dalí (Adrien Brody), Pablo Picasso (Marcial Di Fonzo Bo) and his beautiful mistress Adriana (Marion Cotillard). However, explaining the events of his midnight adventures to Inez becomes impossible after she refuses to accompany him on one of his time altering trips. She would rather be with Paul and Carol—mostly Paul. Meanwhile, as Gil’s interest in Adriana grows, he discovers the 1920s woman dreams of living in an even earlier era.
Told in typical Woody Allen fashion with lots of dialogue and plenty of jazz tunes, the film becomes a name-dropping event. A familiarity with the celebrities, fashion leaders and literary icons of that decade will make the movie more fun for viewers. With infrequent profanities and several scenes that involve sexual dialogue along with some partial, painted nudity, the film’s biggest content issues are the frequent depiction of alcohol and cigarette use. Nearly all the characters in this film (regardless of the time period) drink repeatedly, some to the point of inebriation.
Sometimes the grind of daily life in the present can be wearing. But this film reminds those who yearn for the romantic time period of knights in shining armor, the Swinging Sixties or the good old days of childhood that life in a golden era is often seen through rose-colored glasses.
Release Date: 20 May 2011 (Limited)
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Midnight In Paris.
Why does the past often seem better than the present? What things do people overlook about the past? Do you believe that “nostalgia is a denial of the painful present”?
How are Inez and her American parents portrayed in this film? How do they behave as tourists in the foreign city?
How does Owen Wilson’s character compare with the roles Woody Allen plays in his earlier films?
Many historical literary, art and music figures are portrayed in this movie. Cole Porter was an American composer and songwriter. F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway were writers. Gertrude Stein was an art collector and poet. Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso were influential artists. And while there is no mention of a woman named Adriana in Picasso’s life, he was well known for his many mistresses.