‘Midnight in Paris’
From the opening montage of famous landmarks to the closing scene on a rain-slicked bridge over the Seine, “Midnight in Paris” (2011) is director Woody Allen’s love letter to the City of Light. The story follows Gil Pender (Owen Wilson), an American screenwriter who yearns to be a novelist, on a visit to the city with his fiancée and her clueless parents. At midnight, Gil becomes a time traveler, transported to a cafe where he meets the literary and artistic legends of the 1920s — Ernest Hemingway, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Cole Porter, Pablo Picasso — along with charming Adriana (Marion Cotillard).
It’s Paris that has brought these luminaries together, and viewers are treated to scenes of the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, Moulin Rouge, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, the Louvre, and Bateaux-Mouches plying the river. As the scenes move from day to evening, see the same monuments ablaze with light. Landscapes, too, are familiar — manicured parks, cobblestoned streets, sidewalk cafes. (And perhaps nothing says Paris like the little, yippy dog at the table in an elegant restaurant.) At one point Adriana says to Gil: “I can never decide whether Paris is more beautiful by day or by night.” A tough call indeed. --Ellen Albanese