x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris would have made an excellent shorter film

With nostalgia layered on thick, it's difficult not to be drawn into Allen's unlikely world of literary titans.

Owen Wilson as Gil and Rachel McAdams as Inez in Midnight in Paris.
Owen Wilson as Gil and Rachel McAdams as Inez in Midnight in Paris.

Director: Woody Allen
Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard
***

If you could go back in time, which period would you choose? This seems to be the main question in Allen's latest offering, a featherweight romcom that picked up Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards last month and will no doubt earn the director some badge of honour from French tourism authorities.

In a fine piece of casting, Wilson plays Gil, a mild-mannered American screenwriter on holiday in Paris looking for inspiration for his first novel.

Sadly, his uptight fiancé Inez (McAdams) doesn't approve of such creative urges, and would rather they spend time with her Tea Party-ish parents and suspiciously close friend Paul (Michael Sheen).

Needing respite from this merry throng, Gil heads off one night for a walk, and in a piece of storytelling usually reserved for imaginative children, suddenly finds himself magically transported back to the 1920s via a passing antique cab (Allen's own DeLorean, perhaps).

Soon, he's hobnobbing with Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. He also catches the eye of one of Picasso's muses, Adriana (Cotillard), who falls for his wide-eyed excitability at being amid such Jazz Age contemporaries. With nostalgia layered on thick, it's difficult not to be drawn into Allen's unlikely world of literary titans. But it's so simple an idea that Midnight in Paris might well have been better suited as a short film than a full 94-minute feature.

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