Tuesday, August 2, 2011
There is no denying that Midnight in Paris can be a very charming film. Venturing through the streets of Paris amidst its irresistible architecture, scenery, and grandeur is indeed a treat. It is a very Woody Allen type of movie, all the way from his now tediously recycled protagonist that is yet again another variation of Allen’s persona to the strong tie the plot shares with its setting.
It’s charming indeed, but that’s not enough to cover up for its numerous flaws. The premise here is interesting, but the film soon begins to rely far too much on it. When the film does go back to previous time periods, it focuses little on the actual lifestyle and culture but rather on the famous artists and icons. It quickly becomes a gimmick, for it tries to capture the audience’s attention by sneaking in more famous painters after writers after musicians. It takes a recognizable actor, pairs it with a recognizable costume and a memorable but one dimensional personality and throws them at the screen. In fact, if it weren’t for seeing icons such as Salvador Dali or Josephine Baker in the scenes that take place in the past, you wouldn’t really be able to tell what time period the movie was in, or if it had gone back in time at all.
The biggest shame here is that the movie doesn’t seem to try to make these characters genuine. In the end, what saves the movie is the supporting cast, composed of Kathy Bates, Marion Cotillard, Michael Sheen, and a wonderful Adrien Brody who gets a painful scarcity of screen time as Salvador Dali. None of these characters have any dimension at all, and in fact, besides Owen Wilson’s character, they are all on the verge of being stereotypes. Rachel McAdams is the bickering wife, Michael Sheen is the seemingly perfect intellectual whose role in the plot proves predicable, and Kathy Bates is snappy and knowledgeable as Gertrude Stein.
And then there is Marion Cotillard’s character, Adrianna, who is perhaps the most disappointing, disposable, and lifeless character of them all. She is the obligatory love interest who offers nothing but good look, a flirty smile, and an absence of any personality or interest. She is a vehicle for which the movie communicates its message, but nothing else. However, Cotillard, like the rest of the supporting cast, does a commendable job with what she is given to work with.