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Midnight in Paris: Let's do it, let's fall in love...

This summer if you can’t go to Paris, I have a movie recommendation that will transport you there. Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris (which opened the Cannes Film Festival) takes you into the nostalgic era of music, art, and writing of the 1920’s. A romantic time of pleasure, joie de vivre, art, whimsy, and enchantment.
It’s about a young engaged couple who realize they’re not meant for each other once they’re in Paris; and then there is the illusion that life in a different place and time would be better. When life is unsatisfying, it’s easy to wish you could escape into a different period by time travel, that’s why most people love fantasy.  
The beauty of going to the movies is we can be transported back in time.  We turn to movies and books to escape, Midnight in Paris is the whole package that is a pleasure to behold and then again and again.
Owen Wilson and Marion Cotillard
Rachel McAdams and Owen Wilson
Paris is zee world’s GREATEST city, bien sûr!  Midnight in Paris is a beautiful love letter to the divine 1920’s Paris.  Gil (Owen Wilson) thinks Paris looks best in the rain, but no matter the weather or the time, Midnight in Paris will take your breath away and leave you wanting to stay in the theatre and experience it again and again.
In a world full of wishes that are easily granted, Gil (a discouraged TV writer) dreams of becoming an expatriate writer. His fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams) wants Gil to keep doing what he does best so she can keep enjoying his credit cards. Gil and Inez meet up with Inez’s old flame Paul (Michael Sheen) who is an arrogant intellectual arguing with the museum guide of Musée Rodin who happens to be Carla Bruni (model, singer, first lady of France, now actress).
We later learn from Gertrude Stein that Gil’s novel may not be half bad. This gives Gil hope.
It is a fantasy of mine to become an expat writer and live in Tuscany like Frances Mayes. I totally get Gil!
Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald
The fun begins when Gil (who is a little drunk) goes for a late-night stroll and gets lost. At midnight a gorgeous antique Peugeot pulls up with happy socialites drinking champagne. He does the right thing and gets in to join the party. He finds himself at a club where Cole Porter is playing the piano and he’s introduced to F. Scott Fitzgerald and his beautiful southern belle wife, Zelda (my favorite character).


 I remember the summer I took a Hemingway to Fitzgerald English class at the University of Alabama. It was the perfect place to learn about Zelda because she was from Montgomery, Alabama. Alison Pill, who plays Zelda, lights up the screen and has a spot on southern accent that is fun to hear in Paris (especially when she says s'il vous plait)!
Gil befriends the ultra masculine Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), Gertrude Stein (the fabulous Kathy Bates), fashion designer ingénue Adriana (Marion Cotillard), Picasso, Matisse… Each time Gil meets one of his golden era heroes his mouth falls to the floor.

Adriana (Marion Cotillard) has to be the world’s most beautiful woman past and present. She’s been Picasso’s, Braque’s, and Modigliani’s lover. I guess you could call her an art groupie.  

Woody Allen’s always witty dialogue is sharp and hilarious. Some of my favorite Woody Allen movies I love because they satisfy my “I want to travel to Europe now” bug. Hop aboard the Woody Allen European tour: Match Point (England), Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Spain), Mighty Aphrodite (Greece), Midnight in Paris (France)… As much as I adore a European backdrop, I think Woody Allen could turn a place that is not known for being romantic like Tuscaloosa, Alabama into a city of magic. Woody has that je ne sais quoi that works well in any place.
Do you ever feel like you should have been born in another time? I think this often because I like to read and escape into a fantasy. I also crave culture like water and Midnight in Paris satisfies my craving and puts me in a happy place.
Midnight in Paris reminds me of a Merchant and Ivory film because it has that international flair, beauty, and intelligence that those films produce but also the romance of the movies like Before Sunrise and After Sunset which put you in a love bubble.

In the end, Gil realizes that no time is idyllic and he can find happiness in the present. He decides to make the best of life in our own time and the ending is the REAL fairy tale, walking off in Paris in the rain with a beautiful Parisian. As they walk away I imagine they’re both singing Cole Porter’s Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall In Love.  Merci Woody!
To get you in the “American in Paris” mood, enjoy these quotes then watch the trailer to the best movie you will have seen in a long, long time.
If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast. Hemingway
America is my country and Paris is my hometown. Gertrude Stein
History takes time. History makes memory. It is the soothing thing about history that it does repeat itself. Gertrude Stein
First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you. F. Scott Fitzgerald
You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say. F. Scott Fitzgerald


  1. Good review - I would not have bothered to see this movie without it. Although good travel movies always kindle the travel bug, and it's frustrating if you can't satisfy it... And while I don't wish I was born in any different time, I DO wish I could time travel and see all of it.

  2. Tatiana,
    I promise that Midnight in Paris will satisfy your "travel bug." The good news about Paris is that it still looks much like it did in the 1920's. Paris will wait for you ;)Until then you can see this movie.
    What are some of your favorite travel movies?

  3. This is showing in English at the theater in Aix-en-Provence, I'm totally going to check it out! :-)

  4. Sara,
    You will love it! It will make you so proud to be an American living in France. Go with someone fun and have a wonderful evening...a bientot my Texas friend!