The Ultimate Salvation for Writers
Disconnected from reality, often writers live in a world of their own. A world where the lines between fact and fiction, conscious and subconscious, and hope and despair dissolve to give birth to their next best (or worst) creation: a novel, script, play et al. A world of fantasy perhaps that’s far more desirable than the current world or time we live in. In Midnight in Paris (MIP) Woody Allen takes us deep into the illusory world and mind of one such writer, Gil (an innocuously miscast Owen Wilson) who confronts his fears, desires, insecurities and inhibitions in the company of his favourite writers, painters and artists; think Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Picasso and Dali. And all this in his classic witty, cynical and tragi-comical unique style that so much defines his filmmaking.
I’ve said this before for Woody’s previous act — You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger — and I say it again. Self-plagiarising Woody’s characters seem like ghosts of his past movies; his plot is not new either: a writer bored with his current existence and girlfriend (a neither good nor bad Rachel McAdams), the girlfriend who almost falls for another more “interesting” man (a pedantic Michael Sheen), the girlfriend’s parents who doubt their daughter’s choice, the writer who falls for the ravishing and perceptive surreal woman (Marion Cotillard), and the list goes on. Even the illusory world where Gil meets masters of the past is not new to Woody.
In the past, Woody often introduced a historical or literary figure out of nowhere to make an opinion, statement or pass a judgement about prevailing circumstances. Woody extends and explores that situation exponentially to successfully both entertain and elevate us to possible chauvinistic, comical subtext realizations which in Woody’s style would read: (subtext in green)
- The past always seems better than the present — Women in the past were classical beauties compared to the present.
- The present is a reality we have to live and deal with. But there is hope — Cope with your woman but don’t give in, you’ll find a better one before the credits roll. Like Gil finds Gabrielle (Léa Seydoux) in the end.
- The writer is always write…oops!…right. — To hell with other’s opinion, specially the pedantic ones. But hey! keep rewriting that draft.
But Paris is the real hero of MIP. The best place on the planet for all things artistic and beautiful. Without Paris where would all the artists go? Whom would we look up to? Where else can we find art and creativity flowing from every nook and corner? The cradle of art, literature and other creative forms. At least this is a fairly common opinion that Woody reinforces in MIP. And like Gil, who in the end decides to stay back in Paris where he finds his salvation, my writer friends and myself included, might one day decide to stay back in the artistic city of our choice to find our salvation.
You are right – Paris is the real/reel star of this film – especially that opening montage.
Without an iota of doubt. I am glad you “like” my post; I feel honoured. Thanks.
Really enjoyed your insightful review…I too think Midnight in Paris was competent Woody Allen material, but not great.
Glad you liked my review James. Thank you for stopping by at Talking Talkies. I just visited your site — neat stuff you’ve got out there.