It’s always difficult to remain impartial whilst sat in the 2300 seated Lumiere theatre in Cannes, tuxedo donned and having just trod across the second most famous red carpet in the world (behind the Oscars) and having literally bumped into Robert DeNiro, Uma Thurman and Jude Law a few hours earlier! So it is safe to say that we were in a good mood as we awaited for Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris to open up the Cannes film festival…

Plot spoilers abound.

In short, I thoroughly enjoyed Woody’s latest effort, it was fun, beautifully paced and effortlessly fascinating. Starring Owen Wilson, with another one of Allen’s superb ensemble casts backing him up, Midnight in Paris tells the story of Gil (Owen Wilson) who’s travelled to Paris with his fiancé Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her parents. It’s quickly apparent that Gil and Inez are entirely juxtaposed not only in their feelings toward Paris – McAdams yearns to return to California, Gil dreams of moving to Paris full time – but also to life in general.

Gil is a Hollywood script writer who despises the soulless nature of his work and dreams of being born years earlier, about ninety years earlier in fact, as he obsesses over 1920’s France. In a fabulous twist which I never saw coming, whilst walking the streets of Paris at Midnight, Gil is picked up by a vintage vehicle and transported back in time to 1920’s France where he promptly bumps into F Scott Fitzgerald, not long after Ernest Hemingway! The next day, after concluding he may indeed be going insane, Gil successfully attempts to return to 20’s Paris again and meets a host of legends including Dali, Picasso and TS Elliot! Now it is around this point where I have to hold my hands up and admit to feeling not just a little uncultured, as I had no idea, or possibly only a vague clue who a number of these legends of art were!

But it didn’t matter, it certainly didn’t affect my enjoyment of the movie and the Adrian Brody cameo was genius, it brought the house down! It is through these encounters in 20’s Paris, along with a bizarre yet charming love affair with Adriana, (the always magnificent Marion Cotillard) that Gil not only makes some life decisions, not least his general outlook, but finds the courage to make changes long overdue.

Now I have no doubt that critic after critic will bang on about how Allen’s time has passed; much like the film is draped in nostalgia, critics will fantasize over the thought of Woody Allen’s old movies. For me though, Midnight in Paris was a huge amount of fun, solid performances all round, interesting characters, Allen even managed to get a solid performance out of the French First Lady! It may be Cannes festival fever, but I was with four lads, all between 25 and 30 and we all loved it!


Review by Dominic Burns