Arts & Culture

Midnight In Paris Reviewed: Indulging In The Surreal And The Real

We wouldn’t be a good Jewish website if we didn’t discuss Woody’s latest. Read More

By / May 24, 2011

Anyone whose goal is ‘something higher’ must expect someday to suffer vertigo. What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No, Vertigo is something other than fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves. —Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Midnight in Paris is probably the most self-indulgent film of Mr. Allen’s, but nobody can claim he didn’t share with his audience. No decadence is spared as a writer-miserably-turned-creative-professional (Owen Wilson, unmistakably directed by Allen) seeks out his higher being by way of losing himself in the art scene of 1920s Paris while on a prolonged trip with his haughty fiancee (Rachel McAdams) and the McCarthyesque in-laws. From a prolonged opening Parisian montage that fades into a sexy backdrop to fantastic Barnes & Noble and Hollywood cameos, nothing is frivolous as an American writer unabashedly indulges in wide-eyed literati debauchery that Allen’s niche audience would not refuse for itself.

It could have been subtitled Whatever Works 2, as the pursuit of happiness continues in an all new set of characters. Via displacement of 2010 Americans in place and time, as in Allen’s other recent Vicky Cristina Barcelona, characters are given the opportunity to escape to an alternate universe of the self, although not all are required to drop their conservative/ teabagging creature comforts (channeled through the blue-blooded talents of Mimi Kennedy and Kurt Fuller).

Allen uses the medium of film to the fullest in providing an incredibly surreal escape (in more ways than one, thank you Brody and company) while taking the advice of his Gertrude Stein (adeptly played by Kathy Bates in the fashion of Picasso’s portrait): although steeped in observations of the despair and melancholy of life, it is his responsibility as an artist to also provide the viewer a taste of the good life. And coming from the choicest ambassador of misery since Kundera, uplifting Midnight in Paris was quite an artistic feat.