Midnight in Paris: The Golden Age Was Just Someone Else's Depressingly Boring Present

Thank you, movie, for making me want to go back to Paris really badly.  I haven't been there since I was 9, and I'm sure watching this movie won't make me miss it at all.

Screw you, people rich enough to arbitrarily take trips to France whenever you feel like it!

So Gil is a romantic screenwriter who really wants to move to Paris and pursue his novel, because, you know, being in Paris automatically makes one a better, more focused writer.  Inez is his shrew of a fiancee who seems to go out of her way to demonstrate what a completely awful person she is.  It's not even that they're different types of people who ultimately just aren't right for each other...she is rude, belittles him in front of her friends and family, is unwilling to compromise on anything, cajoles him into doing things with people he doesn't like, insults him when he does try to contribute to the group, and is cheating on him!  Have I missed anything out?

Oh yeah...she's a Republican.  From a wealthy family.  And therefore must feel my rage.

But apparently (because Paris is magical) at midnight Gil can go back in time to the 1920s, his golden age, and hobnob with all the greats of the Lost Generation.  F Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, etc, etc.  And a hot girl who is of no real historical significance.  Because there has to be a hot girl.  Obviously.

Lessons are learned about trying to live in the past, and how it's pointless and futile.  It's ultimately impossible to try to live in whatever period that you consider to be "the Golden Age", because what makes it exciting is the romanticism of the past.  And anyway, all the people who lived in "the Golden Age" were all whinging about how much better it was even further in the past.

Random Musings:

  • Woody Allen does a really good job writing Paul.  Everybody knows somebody like that, the self-taught expert of everything who has the ability to make any conversation into a lecture.  It's like, look guy, any asshole can use the word juxtaposition, it doesn't mean that you know what you're talking about. Yeah, I'm with Gil on this one, these people are irritating.  And props to Michael Sheen for bringing that pompous, pedantic douche to life.

  • So Owen Wilson wants to move to Paris...but he doesn't speak a word of French.  I'm going to go with "insouciant" because batshit crazy sounds mean.

  • Did Gil never learn about Stranger Danger?  You never get in a car with a group of people you don't know in a city you're not familiar with when you don't speak the language.  Come on.

  • Something about this movie gives me a serious Purple Rose of Cairo vibe.

  • I respect that couples are often very different from one another and opposites attract and all that, but I feel like you're supposed to love each other in spite of your differences.  Inez doesn't even really seem to like him.  I guess I don't understand how they managed to get engaged and they don't realize that they sort of can't stand to be in the same room with one another.

  • I love that Gil goes to a bunch of surrealists to talk about how he's from the future, and they're all like, "Yeah, that sounds completely normal."  Because they're surrealists.

What can I say, this is a fun, light-hearted movie.  Owen Wilson does his best to channel a young, slightly less neurotic Woody Allen.  Rachel McAdams does her best with what she has, but let's face it, she's being asked to play Cruella De Vil.  Their relationship isn't so much believable as it is a necessary plot contrivance.

The film is at its best when it leaves the relationship crap behind and just gives into the fantasy.  Gil is a writer who gets the opportunity to sit down and talk with pretty much every single member of the Lost Generation.  That's fantastic!  Are they sometimes oversimplified caricatures of those legendary figures?  Of course.  But the actors commit to it with such panache, it's hard to really mind.  I particularly enjoyed Allison Pill as Zelda -- she's able to depict all of the free spirit and instability of the famously troubled Mrs Fitzgerald with limited screentime.

And of course, Corey Stoll as Hemingway.  Come on.  The pompous yet endearing way that he delivers his lines is everything I want in a portrayal of Hemingway and more.  The way he wants to rumble when there's literally no one around is priceless.  This is the way to do Hemingway in a film like this -- all of the (excuse the expression) fighting and fucking, barely any of the emotional torment.  Some might say that it does a discredit to old Ernest, but I think if you try to deal too much with his mental state, you're likely to "misdiagnose" him, which I don't see as particularly respectful, and you run the risk of ruining the whimsical tone the film has established.

Overall a solid film, although I feel a bit like Gil, because I would much rather spend my time in the part of the movie that dealt with the 1920s.  It was vibrant and fun, and so much stronger than all the rubbish that happens in the present.

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