Weekend Review: Midnight in Paris

It says something that the aging darling of the filmgoing quasi-intelligentsia had a hit last year with a movie that borrows its central conceit from science-fiction. No one would call Midnight in Paris SF, or (more correctly) fantasy, but its use of time-travel qualifies it for a review here.

It’s also an entertaining little movie.

Title: Midnight in Paris

Cast, Crew, and Other Info:

Written and directed by Woody Allen

Owen Wilson as Gil
Rachel McAdams as Inez
Kurt Fuller as John
Mimi Kennedy as Helen
Michael Sheen as Paul
Nina Arianda as Carol
Yves Heck as Cole Porter
Alison Pill as Zelda Fitzgerald
Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway
Tom Hiddleston as F. Scott Fitzgerald
Sonia Rolland as Joséphine Baker
Daniel Lundh as Juan Belmonte
Thérèse Bourou-Rubinsztein as Alice B. Toklas
Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein
Marcial Di Fonzo Bo as Pablo Picasso
Marion Cotillard as Adriana
Léa Seydoux as Gabrielle
Emmanuelle Uzan as Djuna Barnes
Adrien Brody as Salvador Dalí
Tom Cordier as Man Ray
Adrien de Van as Luis Buñuel
Serge Bagdassarian as Détective Duluc
Gad Elmaleh as Détective Tisserant
David Lowe as T.S. Eliot

Additional cast and crew may be found here.

Available in DVD, Blu-Ray, and Instant Video.


An aspiring writer, who would be played by Woody Allen if Woody Allen weren’t in his seventies, visits Paris with his ill-matched fiancée and her unpleasant parents. His life takes a turn for the mysterious when the late F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald pass by in a temporally-displaced automobile.

High Points:

1. The script provides enough laughs to entertain someone with minimal background about the past eras that the film visits. There’s more laughs if you’re into those eras, and the writers and artists who make appearances. The historical characters, however, appear in shorthand, Disney models of their selves. This is, after all, light comedy.

2. The final revelation regarding a certain private eye provides one of the film’s biggest laughs.

Low Point:

After the initial twist, Midnight in Paris becomes rather predictable, and the characters surrounding Gil largely act as puppets who move the plot along.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6 The film makes a comparatively original use of time-travel, but the film’s developments are otherwise familiar.

Effects: 5/6 We see Paris in more than one era, and all look convincing.

Story: 4/6 The story is funny, but as predictable as a Broadway musical. This film strikes me, in fact, as the Woody Allen film most likely to become a Broadway musical.

Acting: 5/6 It’s very strange to see Owen Wilson channeling Woody Allen so entirely. The appearance of so many actors as 1920s writers and artists brought to mind The Moderns, a flawed but occasionally insightful 1988 film with better (though clearly satiric) portrayals of the same people. While in places a more clever film, The Moderns isn’t as much fun as this one, nor as successful at what it intends to be.

Production: 6/6

Emotional Response: 4/6

Overall: 4/6 Midnight in Paris succeeds on its own terms.

In total, Midnight in Paris receives 31/42.