Midnight in Paris - Soupcon de la vie en rose

soupçon de la vie en rose...

I am not a movie reviewer, and I don't even usually get to go to movies for grown-ups.

My dear friend and I sneaked in a chick date yesterday and as we both love Paris and speak French, we thought Midnight in Paris sounded like a fun treat.

I am not sure which one of us is the bigger literature or art geek. Not snobs, by any means, but we are geeks and luvvies about those things.

First of all the movie is very clean and we both left thinking our ten year olds would be fine: zero nudity, I don't remember any bad language, a little excessive alcohol but nothing crazy and nothing violent at all.

The real star of the movie is Paris, and because of all the gorgeous views of one of my favorite cities, I really didn't care about the plot much, but the story is sweet and engaging. A nice guy writer and his fiancee tag along with her parents on Dad's business trip, and bump into friends of hers (pedantic academic expert on everything and his sidekick girlfriend syncophant). Their elite views and attitudes jar with his simple outlook, and they make fun of him for his nostalgia for Paris of the twenties. After too much to drink one evening, he is picked up by a vintage taxi and finds himself in the middle of the intoxicating literary and art circles of Paris in the twenties, surrounded by glamorous and familiar names who receive him as a like-minded artist in their midst. Naturally this includes a beautiful and mysterious woman who has been the lover of several of the artists, who is absolutely nothing like the WASP fiancee. Night after night, he returns.

The time travel fantasy element is so subtle, it doesn't even feel like a science fiction element. The historical characters are portrayed so that they are instantly recognizable, so the audience gets the same sense of wow, that's Zelda and Scott, that's Gershwin, that's Picasso right along with Owen Wilson's affable dork modern character.

If the movie had been made twenty years ago, it would have probably had the main character making different decisions, and the message would not have been so positive and so affirming - Gertrude Stein admonished the main character that as a writer, he must look at the despair around him and find the hope and the beauty and gradually through the movie, he does exactly that.

It doesn't have the angst or the darkness of so much of Woody Allen's other work, and it almost feels like an allegory or fairy tale. I loved it, and would happily see it again (if for no other reason to catch some of the French I missed the first time). I'm sure there are real film geeks out there who would disagree with such a sweet and simple film, but they can take themselves and their black turtlenecks out for darker more depressing fare. I loved this one, and would definitely recommend it.

Jennifer Z.

Blogging on juggling rural New York home life with Manhattan worklife here at http://www.blogher.com/member/jenniferz 

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