.

Midnight in Paris

Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Carla Bruni

Directed by Woody Allen
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 3.5
Community: star rating
5 3.5 0
20
May 19, 2011

They love Woody Allen in France. And in Midnight in Paris, which just opened the Cannes Film Festival, the Woodman returns the favor. Not since 1979's Manhattan, in which he rhapsodized over the New York of his black-and-white dreams, has Allen used a camera to make such urgent, passionate love to a city.

The 12 Must-See Summer Movies — Plus Five Unheralded Gems and Five More to Skip

Midnight in Paris opens with a prologue, shot with a poet's eye by the great Darius Khondji, that shows off the City of Light from dawn to darkness in images of shimmering loveliness. Pity the actors who have to compete with such an object of desire. Owen Wilson stars as Gil, a Hollywood screenwriter on a return visit to Paris, this time with his fiancee, Inez (Rachel McAdams). "This is where Monet lived and painted," Gil enthuses. Inez isn't into water lilies or Gil's dreams of writing the great American novel like Hemingway and Fitzgerald. She'd rather party with Paul (Michael Sheen), a fake intellectual who thinks he can one-up a Rodin museum tour guide (a playful cameo from France's First Lady, Carla Bruni).

Allen has fired at these targets before. What's fresh about Midnight in Paris is the way he identifies with Gil's idealization of the past, of the Paris that represented art and life at their fullest. Wilson is pitch-perfect at locating the right blend of humor and gravity that the role demands. Gil finds a kindred spirit and a muse in fashion designer Adriana (a superb Marion Cotillard). What's at risk is a lifeline back to the present. As a filmmaker, Allen has grappled with the temptations of repeating himself instead of forging a fresh path. You can feel that conflict here, and watching him work it out is exhilarating.

The Complete Archive: Over 20 Years of Peter Travers' Movie Reviews Now Online

Midnight in Paris is infused with seductive secrets no review should spoil. But for all the film's bracing humor and ravishing romance, there are also haunting shadows. That alone makes it a keeper.

20
prev
Movie Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “You Oughta Know”

    Alanis Morissette | 1995

    This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com