No one can deny that Woody Allen has lived a complex life and, indeed, probably has a very complex inner life. His films provide a glimpse into his world and his own psychological workings in relation to it. I love his films because, not only are they entertaining and full of intelligent humour, but they have an uncanny ability to explore some of my own inner thoughts.
Wait – does that mean that my inner life is similar to that of Woody Allen? Should that cause me concern, or perhaps the themes explored in his films are more pervasive than I realize?
Midnight in Paris continues Allen’s exploration of a slice of his world and one man’s desires within them. The movie follows a successful (read: commercial) American screenwriter (Owen Wilson) whose actual passion is to write good works of literature. He is in Paris with his fiance, a very American woman (Rachel McAdams) who is accustomed to a way of life and not interested in exploring much outside of it. I am not usually a fan of Owen Wilson, but his casting for this movie was perfect. With such a surreal premise, his brand of humour and delivery make this film work.
How surreal, you ask? Well, haven’t you ever wondered whether you should have grown up in a different era? Or what it would be like to be able to exchange ideas with great thinkers and artists? Wilson’s character wondered just that of Paris in the 1920s, and in the film, he actually gets to experience it. Wilson’s romp around Paris with Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Man Ray, and then some, is a delightful fantasy that captures the zeitgeist and energy of that time.
Charm and humour aside, Midnight in Paris is an Allen film, so the film eventually exposes our protagonist’s inner struggle. Wilson did get to visit the “nostalgia shop”, and it was a wonderful experience, but maybe our time isn’t so bad either.