Some brief and non-thunder-nor-lime-light-stealing thoughts on “Midnight in Paris”

Woody Allen’s forty-sixth film, “Midnight in Paris” is bottled charm. Allen has expertly captured the essence of Paris, the beauty, the very feeling of what I imagine Paris evokes, and played it back for audiences everywhere.

“Midnight” works on a slightly silly premise, but is all the more endearing for it. The film is worth the price of admission for Corey Stoll’s performance as twenty-something Ernest Hemingway. His deadpan and humorless delivery of Hemingway’s terse and layered speech is simultaneously hilarious and distinctly earnest.*

Ultimately Allen’s charming comedy delivers a warning against becoming too wrapped up in the plight of the romantics: the Golden Age Syndrome. While Allen indeed makes use of his premise to prove a point he, in a sense, gets to have his cake and eat too. If Allen wishes the audience to reflect on the fallacy of wishing to live in another era then the movie is all sleight of hand since the movie’s allure and charm come almost entirely from the scenes set in late 1920s Paris, with Owen Wilson hanging out with the Lost Generation. Ultimately it seems that Allen had a strong concept with a weak story. After all the charm in the bottle has been used up he needs to resolve the character’s arcs. He does so swiftly and a bit too neatly.

The cinematography is in a passionate romance with the City of Light. It is less interested in the characters, and grows bored with all the talking and musing they do. It gives it a somewhat lazy feel. A style so plain, it almost doesn’t exist.

These are small complaints. The movie is a ton of fun, and laugh-out-loud hilarious at times. Wilson proves himself to be a perfect stand in for the ageing Woody, and Allen proves he still has some clever ideas inside his head.

If the film is worth anything it is the fact that The Sun Also Rises is now resting at the top of my “to read list,” cutting the line, landing ahead of too many books to mention. But then again, maybe I didn’t learn anything after all?

*See what I did there?

LM

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