Gil Pender, a moderately successful Hollywood screenwriter and antique shop owner, takes a trip to Paris with his bride to be and her family. Gil’s ambition is to be enveloped in the magic of the Paris of his imagining, where bohemian intellectuals of historic interest, like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Gertrude Stein, celebrate the fullness of a life well lived. Still, Gil’s tint of tourism clashes with that of his traveling companions, who are focused on museum tours, overpriced purchases, and a general distaste for anything other than the ostensibly American. When he wanders off for a late evening walk, the passengers of a fleeting, vintage Peugot abduct Gil in to a world where his machinations would become a reality.
The opening montage of Midnight in Paris tempts the viewer, reminding us that Paris’ stormy enchantments prevent any harsh light from being cast about her: sunrise to sunset with a simple tempest to embellish her midday. It’s unfortunate, then, that Allen shines so blinding, so didactic a light on Owen Wilson’s character, Gil Pender. Although sufficiently adorable in the visual department, the dialogue sports the garish markings of a well-traveled suitcase, preventing us from examining the contents of a thing whose shell would beg our eyes pry no further. Comedically, we’re handed the same travel brochure over and over again, until we can practically recite its verse. Despite these portents, Midnight in Paris is delivered with authenticity, focus, and neuroses that seem to have cooled to the point of certainty.
- Midnight in Paris (Allen 2011) @ Sundance Kabuki Cinemas