Movie Review: Midnight in ParisWoody + Marion = Magnifique!

By: Mike McCrann

The new Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris is the best thing he has done in years. This charming confection has the usual bunch of famous names, but it is Marion Cotillard who gives the film its fine glow.

Midnight in Paris1 The first 3 minutes offer shots of Paris in all its splendor. While this sort of montage is usually a cliche, Allen has given his film a fine prologue. The story of hack movie writer (played by Owen Wilson) who has come to Paris with his obnoxious fiancee (Rachel McAdams) is just a pretext for the stunning time travel elements of the film.

Part of the film's success stems from Allen no longer starring in his own films. It was getting pretty creepy watching his character romance such co-stars as Julia Roberts and Goldie Hawn when he was well into old age. Wilson plays a younger version of the typical Allen character— a semi-charming, semi-blundering, nebbishy guy who has come to Paris and really wants to write a serious book. He longs for the golden age of the 1920s.

Without spoiling the plot, Wilson gets his dream and finds himself transported back to the halcyon days of the glorious '20s where he meets the Fitzgeralds, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and many other famous artists. The actors portraying these famous people are marvelous. The great Kathy Bates steals her scenes playing the liberated gay Stein, and Corey Stoll and Tom Hiddleston (lately seen as Loki in the ghastly Thor) are outstanding as Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. (Plus, Stoll is totally sexy!)

Midnight in ParisBut it is Cotillard who is the heart and soul of Midnight in Paris. As a famous lover to several famous painters, she totally captivates not only Wilson but the audience as well. Her character is also longing for a previous time period as La Belle Epoque is calling her. 

Cotillard won the Best Actress Academy Award a few years ago for her stunning portrayal of Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose. That performance ranks with the greatest ever given as she was unforgettable playing the doomed French singer from teenager to death. She was also brilliant as Johnny Depp's mistress in the underrated Public Enemies and she was one of the only good things in the lousy musical Nine. Although I loathed Inception, she was prominently showcased and its success only helped her surging career.

With Midnight in Paris, Allen has created a gorgeous valentine for Cotillard. Everyone in the film is wonderful (even the usually pokey Wilson) but Allen's finest film in years showcases two great beauties perfectly: Paris and Marion Cotillard.