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Midnight in Paris: Witty Woody Allen Rom-Com
Imagine what would happen if visiting the past was possible; not in the time machine kind of way but rather in a whimsical, dreamlike sequence that raises many questions about our perception of the past.
This is more or less what Midnight in Paris is about, a film that is as picturesque and Parisian as Woody Allen’s work can get, which, as expected, has its share of tricks in the viewer's mind through its unusual set of characters against the backdrop of the magical city of Paris.
When soon-to-be-married Inez (McAdams) and author Gil (Wilson) decide to join her parents on their business trip to Paris, they come to realizations that could end their relationship. Besides falling in love with the city, Gil encounters adventures where he least expects them: after midnight. He finds himself transferred to Paris of the 1920s where he meets timeless artists that give him countless inspirations for his writing as well as aspirations for a life that he’s always dreamed of.
If it hadn’t been clearly stated that it is a scripted film, audiences could have easily believed that the dialogues are improvised as the characters speak so effortlessly and spontaneously. The actors are clever choices for their roles, and the dialogue itself is exceptional. Wilson meets characters of the past so naturally; that the whole situation doesn't feel forced or pretentious; as if Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway are people that we could run into any day.
One thing that might upset Allen’s fans is that it Midnight in Paris looks a bit 'too Hollywood' compared to the director’s previous films. On the other hand, if more romantic comedies take after this film, it would be safe to say that the genre is heading in the right direction.
Midnight in Paris takes romantic comedies to a whole new sophisticated level. For one thing, it is set in the most romantic city, Paris. Furthermore, the film is both witty and ironic, making the audience laugh without using obvious jokes. There isn't one boring moment throughout the film; it keeps intriguing and fascinating the viewer.
He promptly charms the somewhat cynical principal Ms. Vaillancourt (Proulx), who at first is a little hesitant to his slightly mystical presence, and soon takes over the 'broken' classroom. The film’s heart also lies with the two students who were unfortunate enough to discover the body. Alice (Nélisse) is a bright-eyed, straight A student, who deals with her own troubles of an absent parent on daily basis. The tender-looking Simon (Néron) suffers a level of guilt for his teacher's demise and is a problematic student as a result.
The task at hand is one of many challenges for M. Lazhar. Nevertheless, with his own personal suffering set aside, its details slowly unravel throughout the film; he takes the kids under his caring wing and slowly starts guiding them to the truth.
Fellag's interpretation of M. Lazhar is a delightful surprise. Though slightly old-fashioned in his teaching methods, trying to get to grips on a modernised education system, Lazhar is portrayed as loyal and caring. From beginning to end, we are embraced with his warmth and affection. The same can be said for the outstanding performances by both child actors, Alice and Simon. The level of maturity and the profound strength they bring to their roles is nothing short of mesmerising.
Hayley (Pill) and Michelangelo (Parenti), an American tourist and a handsome Rome resident, meet, fall in love and soon after become engaged; an a occasion brings Hayley's parents, Phyllis (Davis) and Jerry (Allen) over from New York. Her father, a retired Opera director who is restless in his new lifestyle – regularly comparing it to death – soon becomes obsessed with Michelangelo's father, Giancarlo (Armiliato); a happy-go-lucky undertaker with a hidden talent.
In a different stand of the story, successful American architect John (Baldwin) returns to Rome to relive his young adulthood years where he meets a young architect-student Jack (Eisenberg). Jack is living with his girlfriend Sally (Gerwig), who complicates matters when she decides to bring in her flighty and alluring best-friend Monica (Page) for the summer.
Another side plot is of Antonio (Tiberi) and Milly (Mastronardi); a newlywed couple visiting Rome for their honeymoon. Things gets messy for the young lovers when Antonio accidentally encounters haughty prostitute, Anna (Cruz), while trying to impress his snotty relatives for a possible job promotion, while Milly gets up to adventures of her own while lost in search of a hair salon.
Finally, there is Leopoldo (Benigni); a working-class family man who one day awakens to find that he's become famous, for no apparent reason. With reporters following his every move, Leopoldo becomes one of the most famous men in Italy.
The film's major problem is that it ultimately doesn't give each of the stories enough attention to fully develop. It seems a case of too much to say, not enough time to say it, and the script often wanders into incoherence and pointless noise.