This week I attended the latest Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris. The main character, Gil (Owen Wilson), is a screenwriter in Hollywood whose ambition is to give up his career as a “Hollywood hack” so that he can live in a small apartment in Paris and write novels. His fiance, Inez (Rachel McAdams), is the daughter of a successful businessman whose plan for life is to live in a house in Malibu. The happy couple join Inez’ parents on a business (and sightseeing) trip to Paris, and while Gil falls in love with the city (all the while pining to see it in 1920), Inez becomes ever more convinced that Paris is not for them.
Each night Gil walks through the city and at midnight he is confronted with his artistic idols–literally. Gil’s wanders remind the audience, perhaps as well as any historical movie, that these larger than life figures were people too. Midnight in Paris broaches the topic of nostalgia for a past that never was, while pointing out that life ought to be lived in the present. Whimsical and clever, characters are paraded in front of Gil, whose action the audience follows. I repeatedly laughed aloud and emerged both with the message about living life in the present or pining for a bygone era, and an overwhelming desire to visit Paris–perhaps without a cell phone or iPod so that I may walk in the rain.
I highly recommend this movie and it will likely be the next DVD purchase I make.