“Midnight in Paris”: Nostalgia all the way

“Midnight in Paris” is an interesting take on nostalgia thanks to the director and writer, Woody Allen.

So I found out this year in school that I’ve seen very few Woody Allen films. I think my totally is up to a grand total of four thanks to “Midnight in Paris”. Allen always has an interesting take on his films and you can always tell that they are his films. He also always picks very beautiful locations.

Paris is beautiful in the opening credits. It seems like a time lapse to show the world of Paris changing from day to night. “Midnight in Paris” is all about Gil Pender who is a would be writer with a past in Hollywood scripting. Gil played by Owen Wilson is engaged to the very spoiled Inez played by Rachel McAdams. While Inez goes out ever night to dance with friends including an ex-boyfriend who she still likes, Gil goes out walking the streets at Paris.

This is where the fun starts. Everynight when the clock chimes midnight, an old car comes to pick him up and transports him back to the time he wished he was born into… the 1920’s. In the 1920’s he runs into may greats including Cole Porter and the Fitzgeralds, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald. I love at one point when Gil offers Zelda, a valium when she freaks out.  He also meets Ernest Hemingway.  Gil promises to bring his manuscript back to Hemingway tomorrow.

When he wakes up, he is back in his hotel room, telling Inez about his crazy night. She thinks he has a brain tumor. He keeps trying to surprise her to take her back to this time, but she gives up before the car arrives. Maybe nostalgia doesn’t make her happy, her present life is happy when she is hanging out with an old boyfriend.

With his first trip back to the 1920’s, I thought Gil was just very drunk. However when he returns a second time, I think not. Gil goes back farther with is Adrianna, mistress to Picasso played by the lovely Marion Cotillard. Side note: Anything this woman does is perfect. Love her! Gil and Adriana goes back to la Belle Epoque. Allen never really describes how it happens, it just does.

I think a quote that Gil speaks tells the reason behind these time shifts,

“Adriana, if you stay here though, and this becomes your present then pretty soon you’ll start imagining another time was really your… You know, was really the golden time. Yeah, that’s what the present is. It’s a little unsatisfying because life’s a little unsatisfying.”

It’s a sad realization because Gil is upset with his life and the situation it is in. Allen creates a nice  spin on nostalgia and why so many people look back or can’t move forward with their lives.

If I had to pick a theme for the 9 Best Pictures nominations, I am slowly beginning to realize what is. This movie along with other 8 Best Picture nominations have a great tie to the past and present. They all share a sense of nostalgia and a time that was.

Oscar Nominations: 

  • Best Picture
  • Best Art Direction
  • Best Directing: Woody Allen
  • Best Writing (Original Screenplay)



2 thoughts on ““Midnight in Paris”: Nostalgia all the way

  1. If Annie Hall isn’t one of the four Woody Allen films you’ve seen, you should rent it this afternoon and watch it this evening. Or rent it this afternoon and watch it this afternoon. Or buy a copy and watch it every night this week. Or buy a copy and permanently implant it in your DVD/Blu-Ray player. Or…well, you get the idea. (Manhattan and Crimes and Misdemeanors ain’t bad either, but neither is as good as Annie Hall.)

  2. I agree with the comment above, Annie Hall is amazing… I’m not really a Woody Allen fan but I really think Annie Hall is a must-see. Also, totally agree with your point at the end there about the best picture nominees being a little nostalgia themed this year.

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