News / USA

Woody Allen Pays Homage to City of Light

'Midnight in Paris' recalls the past, looks to the present

0wen Wilson channels Woody Allen and Rachel McAdams is his materialistic girlfriend in 'Midnight in Paris.'
0wen Wilson channels Woody Allen and Rachel McAdams is his materialistic girlfriend in 'Midnight in Paris.'


Penelope Poulou

Woody Allen taps into the allure of a bygone era in "Midnight in Paris." The acclaimed filmmaker captures a picture-perfect Paris and presents an intimate story in a centuries-old city only to remind us that, as much as we glorify the past, it's best to live in the present.  

Gil, an American screen writer, and his fiancée, Inez, take a romantic trip to Paris. Gil is smitten with Inez but the two are worlds apart. He wants to live the Bohemian life in Paris writing novels. She is materialistic, impressed by status and attached to her ultra-conservative parents, who are in Paris with the couple so the father can clinch a business deal.

The relationship between Inez and Gil begins to disintegrate. Things get especially tense when Inez meets up with old friends; her girlfriend from college and her fiancée, Paul, a professor at the Sorbonne who's a pretentious know-it-all.

Gil has had enough of Paul. He wants to be alone. As he strolls along the quaint Parisian streets, the clock strikes midnight.

All of a sudden, he's transported back to the 1920s, where he meets Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and the American writer Ernest Hemingway.

And he falls in love, for real this time, with Adriana, an alleged mistress of Picasso, played by Marion Cotillard. Every night, Gil visits an enchanted past and every morning he wakes up in the 21st century.  

Woody Allen delivers this fairytale with wit and comic lightness, while treating us to a magical Paris.

“I wanted to show the city emotionally, the way I felt about it," says Allen."It didn’t matter how real it was or what it reflected. I just wanted it to be the way I saw Paris, Paris through my eyes.”

Owen Wilson stars in Woody Allen's 'Midnight in Paris.'
Owen Wilson stars in Woody Allen's 'Midnight in Paris.'

To portray the great intellectuals of the time, Allen cast a group of A-list actors such as Adrian Brody, who plays Salvador Dali.

“You know this was the first time I had accepted to play Dali," Brody says. "I have been offered this role several times in different incarnations. It was a relatively limited glimpse of that man in his life so I spent a great deal of my time researching the shape of the rhinoceros. That’s all.”

Along with the superstars, Carla Bruni, the first lady of France, has a small role as a museum guide.

Like Paris, the film enchants. But the rendition of an ethereal City of Light is out of step with the dialogue, which lacks depth. Owen Wilson, as Gil, mimics Woody Allen's style so much that it distracts. We feel we’re watching a young Woody Allen. As Inez, Rachel McAdams is a convincing shrew but her performance is too theatrical.

There are many hilarious moments as well as magic in the midnight Paris air. But, like whimsy, this film has no lasting power.

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

UN Warns Air Pollution in Asia Pacific Has Rising Cost

Globally some seven million people a year die prematurely due to indoor and outdoor pollution with about 70 per cent of those deaths in region

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs