Review: Rendezvous with romance

Published 6:59 pm Thursday, January 5, 2012

"Midnight in Paris"

The holidays are tailor-made for going to the movies. Cold weather and snowflakes in the air, precious time away from the office just begging to be filled.

What awaits you is the dimly lit interior of your local movie theater … dimly lit that is after you get past the fluorescent lights blaring the price of overpriced popped corn soaked in addictive melted butter flavored product.

Outside the sky may be gray and monochromatic but inside, the world is silver and Technicolor.

Yes, the holidays a good time to catch the latest family films, big budget action movies and dramatic heavyweights out just in time for Oscar season.

But of course, I saved my movie going plans for the day when my car struggled against blowing, falling, lake effect snow, just to get to the bank, which was closed.

And so getting to see Steven Spielberg’s latest, “War Horse” or the intriguing “Young Adult” will have to wait.

And “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” may wait a little longer than that. Brutally violent scenes, as some have been describing them, do not scream holidays to me.

So to fill my cinematic void, as the snow fell outside my window, I dimmed the lights and decided to feast on Woody Allen’s latest: “Midnight in Paris.”

“Midnight in Paris” was just recently released on DVD and Blu Ray and stars Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates and Michael Sheen.

Within ten minutes of the film beginning, I longed to look out over a snow-covered scene that included the Eiffel tower in the not so far off distance.

One of the most brilliant writer/directors of our time, what I adore about Allen – seen more often in his recent work – is his ability to capture the beauty of place.

Before allowing his celebrities to assume their roles, Allen sets the tone by taking his viewers through a tour of Paris, giving them a chance to fall in love with the architecture and rain-soaked streets.

It’s a love shared by Allen’s main character in this romantic comedy, Gil (played by Wilson).
Gil is a writer and a romantic. He is so taken with Paris, he longs to live there. A passion that is not shared by his fiancé, Inez (McAdams).

Late one night, without reasonable explanation, Gil finds himself in a world after his own heart. A world that embraces the City of Lights at the height of its intellectual history.

It’s a world Gil can’t seem to share with Inez and it leaves them both wondering what it is they really want from each other – if anything at all.

That relationship is, thankfully, secondary to the world Allen creates for Gil after the clock strikes midnight.

It’s a far cry from the starkness of the writer’s reality. Instead, the streets are always a little dreamlike, the lighting a little bit dim.

Romance is everywhere and everyone is wearing it on his or her sleeve – for the city, for the time, for literature, for art, for music and for love.

In his trademark tone, Allen tells a beautiful tale that is funny and genuine. It’s hard to talk too much about plot without giving the main ingredient away. But art aficionados and literary buffs will appreciate the nod to one of the liveliest eras.

Acting is all on point for an Allen film. Wilson rattles off his lines quickly and almost stuttery, much like Allen would himself. McAdams shows her ability to float in and out of holding a scene and complimenting it.

Also delightful are Bates, Cotillard and Corey Stoll who inhabits the legendary Ernest Hemingway in the way we would like to romanticize him to be.

That’s what “Midnight in Paris” is. It’s a romantic look at what life could be.

It’s the beauty of the rain without the soaking of the clothes. It’s the beauty of the snow without all the hassle that comes with it.

And who wouldn’t want that?