How do I even describe this movie? I really don't want to spoil anything. Owen Wilson plays a writer who's vacationing in Paris with his fiance, played by Rachel McAdams, who a bit of a materialistic bitch, and her parents, who are even more materialistic and bitchy. Owen is a Hollywood script writer who's been trying to write a novel, only he seems like he's unsure that his writing is any good and perhaps even suffering from a bit of writers block. He's thinking his time in Paris should be inspiring him to write better and is even debating moving there. He seems to really love the city, where his fiance and family are more interested in shopping.
They spend their days exploring Paris with a couple of friends, who Owen Wilson clearly doesn't like being around, particularly her 'pedantic' friend, played by Michael Sheen. Eventually, Owen Wilson decides to kind of go off on his own and stumbles on to what he initially believes is some kind of throwback theme party with everyone playing famous writers and artists of the past. Only, after talking to everyone he realizes that somehow he's with the actual people and he's in some kind of time warp. I'm going to call it the 'midnight realm' for the rest of the review.
The next morning he's back in his normal life, excited about what just happened, and motivated. He tries to go back to the 'midnight realm' the next day with his fiance, only for her to get bored waiting around and she leaves just before midnight. Owen has another interesting night in the 'midnight realm' and continues to go back each night meeting more interesting people. He's not just enjoying it, but he also is getting inspiration and help with his writing.
The best way I can describe my feeling about the movie is 'joy'. About two thirds of the way through this movie I found myself smiling and realized I had been smiling for most of the movie. It doesn't even matter if you are up on your literature or art history, most of the names will be familiar to you. You're more into the fact that Wilson's character is so excited and caught up into it. This is the kind of movie that makes you want to go to Wikipedia afterwards and read up on all of these guys.
The actors playing all of historical artists and writers are all great, particularly Corey Stoll, who played Ernest Hemingway. Tom Hiddleston (Loki from Thor) and Alison Pill (Kim Pine from Scott Pilgrim) show up as F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Kathy Bates shows up as Gertrude Stein and a hilarious Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali. There are many others well.
Even Owen Wilson, who sometimes annoys the hell out of me, was great. I think this role was made for him and it's probably his best performance. Marion Cotillard also wonderful. Her characters is essentially the mistress of several of the people in the 'midnight realm' and she's just cute as hell. Even with Rachel McAdams it was nice to see her play a role that didn't require her to be sweet or cute for a change.
There just isn't a bad performance in the movie.
My only complaint about the movie, that it's not longer. I could have watched this for another hour and I wished they spent more time with each of the characters. Ultimately, I think that's why it works. The essence of the story is about how we tend to romanticize the past and always think of that as the Golden Age instead of just dealing with the present. If the movie had spent too much time during the sequences in the past, it might have spoiled the movie and kind of gone against the point. It's good that they leave you wanting more.
Midnight in Paris is charming and funny and this is probably in my top five favorite films of the year so far. I wouldn't be shocked at all to see a few Oscar nominations thrown at this one.
Anyway, I highly recommend going out and seeing this movie in the theater. It's worth playing full price, but this would be a great afternoon matinee followed by a drinks or coffee. It's a great date movie. Go see it!