Allen's New Leading Man Lights Up 'Midnight In Paris'

Woody Allen gets greater depth out of Owen Wilson than we've seen before.

Woody Allen's recent comedies (You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Scoop, Melinda and Melinda) have all been good.  But, Midnight in Paris is great, harkening back to Allen's earlier innovative comedies (Annie Hall, Manhattan). 

Paris is smart and super clever, with lightning fast wit and tons of charm. In addition, this film is also a true homage to Paris...a city Allen seems to love as much as his New York home. 

Paris is one of the main characters here…a vibrant player in Allen's tale of love and culture in the 20th and 21st centuries.  Part romance, part comedy, part time travel fantasy, this movie is all fun...whether you are a cultural aficionado and know the artists, writers, filmmakers, etc. featured in the film or not. 

Owen Wilson stars here as a film screenwriter who is stuck in a career rut, which happens to mirror his relationship rut.  He really wants to stop writing screenplays and write his novel...but does not know how to end his lucrative yet unrewarding film writing career and begin his untested career as a novelist. 

While in Paris for a vacation with his girlfriend, he struggles with these issues...and finds the answers while in Paris, as the City of Lights itself becomes the answer to his problems. 

Wilson, not one of my favorite comic actors, works very well here with Allen's taut script.  Wilson's character is supposed to play his role as the time traveler here with a certain sense of awe but also with a level of believability.  Wilson does a fantastique job of conveying the right combination of childlike wonder and more rational emotions...all at the right times. 

With the plot being pretty fantastical, Wilson plays it perfectly to allow the audience to move along with the plot...to enjoy the fun ride.  In past roles, Wilson's "surfer guy" demeanor has, I believe, hindered his performances.  But, here, we like him and we want to believe that this quirky, unbelievable thing is really happening to him. 

His character has been dealt a bad hand (in addition to his career woes, we get the idea early on that his girlfriend is smitten with someone else).  So, when these escapes through time begin to occur, we are rooting for Wilson...we want these fantasies to be true...we want him to find what he’s looking for.  And, if this film is any indication, Allen might have just found a great leading man in Wilson with whom to travel through his 21st century movies.

Midnight in Paris: 2011, PG-13, 100 minutes, directed by Woody Allen, starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates, Michael Sheen, Adrien Brody and Corey Stoll.  The Niles Public Library will own this film on DVD once it is released later in 2011. 

deb kling June 26, 2011 at 01:17 AM
Woody Allen offers viewers a captivating and charming look at the out-of-place romantic in an uninspired, overly rational 21st century. Owen Wilson's sunny "California Boy" schtick, has been modified here, but he absolutely nails it, as a somewhat "lost" modern man, who finds himself transported back in time to the Parisian "golden eras" of the 1920's, and the Belle Epoque. It is through this magical realism that Allen really shines, as the viewer can see for themselves through visual comparison (ever so subtly) what is missing in the modern age. A truly beautiful film that will stand the test of time. Allen has created a comedic, if somewhat tragic, masterpiece.


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