Midnight In Paris DVD Review

Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before.

A whiny man with a nasally voice bleats on about something his barely interested blonde companion struggles to pay attention to.

It could only be a Woody Allen film, though at least enough time has passed to convince New York’s most famous neurotic to ditch casting himself as a romantic lead opposite someone less than half his age.

A case of art not imitating life I guess.

Midnight In Paris treats us to the sights and sounds of Woody Allen’s neuroses through the vessel of Owen Wilson; an actor who’s had his fair share of demons to conquer from the past.

His character of Gil Pender is a commercially successful film writer who can no longer stomach the prose he’s paid for.

Having secured financial stability from his hack writing, his words, Pender has finally found the courage to ditch his empty existence in favour of writing that novel he always wanted.

Only now, self doubt has kicked in and Gil wonders whether what he’s written is actually any good.

So, as every american looking for artistic inspiration seems to in Hollywood, Pender packs his bags and albatross of a fiancée before taking flight to Paris.

Once there, the cracks in their union begin to surface as Gil starts to reassess more than just his career.

But does Pender have the necessary courage to trust his convictions about his new writing and his instinct of the woman he’s chosen?

If only his artistic heroes from the past were still alive to offer some suitable words of encouragement to help Gil get over himself.

Midnight in Paris is the Oscar nominated Woody Allen feature that continues his recent trend of making incredibly self indulgent yet occasionally charming vanity projects.

His character of Gil Pender is so obviously autobiographical that it’s painful to watch at times.

As befits a man whose lost his own charisma and “Owen-ness” since definitely not trying to kill himself, Wilson does his best possible Woody Allen impersonation.

Which probably works quite well for Wilson, as it’s hard to believe he wouldn’t prefer to be anyone other than himself these days.

Only problem being Allen is simply no longer able to do a passable impersonation of his own younger writing self.

So Allen’s razor sharp wit famously displayed throughout any number of iconic films from the seventies and eighties feels even further entrenched in the past, which is apt as that’s exactly where Midnight In Paris turns to for its narrative inspiration.

Without wanting to give too much away, the amusement of watching Pender interact with Allen’s undoubted artistic heroes begins to grate as soon as they indulging him in some creative reassurance and stretch this premise’s credibility.

So nothing’s changed and Woody Allen still loathes himself, probably slightly less than he used to mind.

Jonathan Campbell

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February 2012
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