Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Movie Review: Midnight in Paris
Do you try to watch the Best Picture nominations every year? It's tricky seeing some of smaller pictures here in rural Hawaii, but I've managed to get six of the Oscar nominated films under my belt. We recently watched Midnight in Paris, which tells the story of an American screenwriter whose fantasy of traveling back in time to the Paris of Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso and Earnest Hemingway suddenly becomes a reality.
This certainly was a beautiful looking film, every shot a gauzy dreamscape of filtered light and Parisian romance. The beautiful cast, clad in the silky designer garb of the blatantly wealthy, sipping champagne and staying in the poshest hotel suites all added to the haze of luxury and fantasy pervading every shot.
The story itself left a great deal to be desired. The female characters were all either shrews or sexpots inexplicably drawn to a schlumpy Owen Wilson who is nothing more than a Woody Allen stand in. (Is he unable to write another character, or just unwilling?) The movie's central idea that we romanticize the past in order to escape the unpleasant realities of the present could have been an interesting idea to explore. However, it was sullied by the main character's complete lack of struggle or self awareness.
Owen Wilson's character did nothing to achieve the realization that an artist has no choice but to live in the present moment. Each and every thing he hoped for in the movie was handed to him from on high.
Dream of visiting the Paris of 1920? Poof! There you are. Shallow but rich and gorgeous fiancee nagging you about buying a beach house in Malibu? Poof! The luminous Marion Cotilliard is smitten with you in a secret midnight dream world instead. Worried she might find your ways from the future odd and repulsive? Poof! She finds you mysterious and magnetic instead. Realize that you have to return to the present and change your life? Poof! You're back, break up with fiancee with no trace of regret or pain and wander off into the twighlight with another impossibly hot Parisienne.
Talk about a fantasy.
Real people have to struggle to find enlightenment and that is why the lessons resonate with those of us in the audience. This schmuck didn't learn anything and it turned this film into something utterly forgettable. Root for The Descendants or Hugo on Oscar night instead.