Midnight in Paris invites its audience to accompany it on an intergenerational journey, filled with literary and artistic legends. This hour and a half long supernatural romantic comedy progresses quickly, and ends sooner than expected: one can attribute this not to the film’s pacing but rather to its enjoyability. But however enjoyable, the film’s flaws do not go unnoticed, particularly the flat, one-dimensional characterization and the casting of Owen Wilson (Gil) and Rachel McAdams (Anez). Perhaps the most confusing issue is Allen’s ambiguous portrayal of nostalgia, for he displays it as both “denial of the painful present,” (as so purported by the pompous know-it-all Paul) and a necessity for true art. Yet despite its flaws, the film rings true for any francophile, cinephile, literophile, artophile or nostalgic person. Plus, with wonderful performances by Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein, Adrien Brody as the sans-Dali-stache Salvador Dali, and Marion Cotillard as Picasso’s and Mogdigliani’s muse (not to mention the hilarious and unfortunate fate of a Parisian private investigator), Midnight in Paris will easily be regarded as the best romantic comedy of 2011, by both critics and the general public.
Here we see Gil, Anez, Paul, and Carol during a private viewing at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris. In a scene visually reminiscent of Kubrick, particularly 2001: A Space Odyssey, we watch Paul share his “vast knowledge” of everything, while detailing some of Claude Monet’s most famous works: Les Nymphéas.