I loved Woody Allen’s pictures. Annie Hall is my favorite, but I’m also fond of many other of his films from the 1970s and 1980s. But at some point, somewhere in the mid-1990s, they became really hit or miss for me. Now I only go if they are reasonably reviewed. So when last year’s You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger got mediocre reviews, I just passed on it, unseen. Bad Woody is painful Woody, because it really reminds me of what was.
So when Midnight in Paris got some positive feedback, I got the Wife to go to the Spectrum Theatre for a Tuesday night show; the Daughter was at the grandparents’ house.
And I loved it. The Wife loved it. This is my favorite Woody film since perhaps Purple Rose of Cairo. But I have a difficult time talking about it because the less you know, the better it’ll be.
I will say that Midnight in Paris is about an engaged couple, Gil and Inez (Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams) visiting Paris. Gil is a hack Hollywood writer who wants to create something more substantial and is finding his current location serving as his muse. Her friend Paul (played wonderfully by Michael Sheen) defines “pedantic”. Carla Bruni, the first lady of France (pictured with Wilson and Allen), adds context as a tour guide.
But the best parts are driven by Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, and a group of actors I was unfamiliar with, especially Corey Stoll as Ernest. Not to mention Marion Cotillard, who I last saw as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, who plays a pivotal role.
This isn’t exactly sunny Woody, but it is engaging Woody, an evolving Woody, or Woody proxy in the surprisingly believable Wilson, whose sole voiceover early on could have been spoken by the writer/director 30 years ago. The film also LOOKS brighter than most Allen films, which works here.