If I could live anywhere, it would be a night in Paris in the 1920s.
Midnight in Paris is a 2011 comedy/fantasy film directed by Woody Allen.Owen Wilson — the latest actor to be handed Allen's "screen persona" nebbish character — plays Gil, a hack but successful Hollywood screenwriter who dreams of writing novels. He and his fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) are visiting Paris with her parents; Gil falls in love with the city while Inez dreams of living in a Malibu suburb. One night, as Inez and her friends go out dancing, Gil takes a walk and discovers a square where every night at midnight, a magic car shows up that transports him to 1920s Paris. He continues to travel there, much to Inez's anger and suspicion.The film seems to have joined Match Point and Vicky Cristina Barcelona as one of Allen's more acclaimed later films. It has also seemingly struck a chord with audiences and become Allen's highest grossing film domestically (a title previously held by Hannah And Her Sisters since the '80s) and internationally.The film became the first Allen film since Hannah And Her Sisters that was nominated for Best Picture. Allen also received a Best Director nomination and won Best Original Screenplay.Warning: spoilers ahead.
Midnight in Paris contains examples of:
An Aesop: the moral of the story is spoken out loud both in the beginning (by Paul) and in the end (by Gil).
The Anti-Nihilist: Gil finds his reality to be unsatisfying and his work as a Hollywood screenwriter to be worthless. He wishes to escape it all, and he does. However, he later concludes that there is no escape as life and present-day realities are always unsatisfying for everybody, and that's how one has to live. The story concludes with Gil, having decided to leave his "Golden Era", finally finding meaning and joy in his own contemporary era.
Author Avatar: As is customary with Woody Allen films, main character Gil is a stand-in for Woody Allen, from the tucked-in shirts Gil wears to the nervous way Gil talks. He also leaves his fiancée and hooks up with a much younger woman.
Bilingual Bonus: It helps to have a working knowledge of French while watching this film. Spanish could come in handy too.
Billing Displacement: Adrien Brody gets second billing on the poster, even though he's only in one scene. Owen Wilson (the star) is listed last. Of course, Woody Allen tends to list the cast of his movies in alphabetical order by last name (on the posters at least) which explains it.
Book Ends: The film opens and closes with scenes of Paris in the rain.
Born in the Wrong Century: Gil believes that he would have fit in with the writers and artists of 1920s Paris. He gets to go back and find out firsthand (and he actually does get along quite well with them). Further, he falls in love with Adriana, who believes this about herself with La Belle Epoquenote And those in La Belle Epoque wish they were in The Renaissance. Truthfully, this movie is a deconstruction of the trope, as it's clear to the audience and other cast from the beginning that Gil's real problem isn't modernity but something in himself.
Butch Lesbian: Gertrude Stein is the 1920s version of this trope.
The Cameo: name a member of the Lost Generation and they'll probably have shown up or have been name checked at some point in this movie
Cassandra Truth: Gil tries to tell his fiancée about his experiences, leading her to think he may have a brain tumor. When he tries to tell the surrealists about his coming from the future, they think he's speaking metaphorically.
Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Gil giving Adriana his fiances jewelry to try to seduce her is not treated as a particularly bad thing to do, but Inez cheating on Gil is another matter. The difference, of course, is in entirely in which character the audience sympathizes with (which is this trope in a nutshell). The nail in Inez's coffin, though, is that, even after being confronted by Gil and admitting that she slept with Paul, she brushes it off with a "what's the big deal?" attitude and wants to continue planning their wedding.
Politically Correct History: All the men in the 1920s treat the women with the same level of respect as other men. If you buy the idea that it's all in Gil's head, then this makes sense as it's his idealized version of the 1920s.
Gertrude Stein's influence with and access to publishers and booksellers i.e. ability to get struggling writers published had a lot to do with the respect she got. However, if you were 'just' an artist model or girlfriend, then your opinions were more easily dismissed.
Cole Porter sings Bowdlerized lyrics for the first chorus of "Let's Do It (Let's Fall In Love)"] which wouldn't be written until the 1940s- the original lyrics were "Chinks do it, Japs do it, up in Lapland little Laps do it...".
Trailers Always Lie: The trailer deliberately hides the Time Travel aspects of the story, making it seem like Gil has found something contemporary. The trailer also implies the 'disappearance' of the detective following Gil is a major plot point instead of the minor Brick Joke it is in the film.
Viewers Are Geniuses: Some of the people Gil meets aren't as well known as others. Knowledge of Luis Buñuel's filmography is required to get one joke in particular. Josephine Baker is not even identified by name and audiences not familiar with her are left only with Gil's reaction to know she's supposed to be anyone important.