27 Dec 2011
I am probably the last lit lover in the world to see the movie Midnight in Paris. I heard great things about it while it was in theaters but, unless my dd demands the lastest Pixar or Potter, I can’t be bothered to watch a movie anywhere besides from the comfort of my couch. (I may make an exception for the upcoming Great Gatsby!) So, I set Midnight in Paris in my mental queue and miraculously I didn’t forget about it. We watched it last week and it was as good as they say!
In case you are the rare bird who hasn’t seen the movie already or heard about the plot, I’ll give a brief synopsis. (Btw I am not scoffing at anyone who hasn’t already seen the movie, I just naturally assume I am one of the few oblivious to anything popular, post 1850.) Midnight in Paris centers around a dissatisfied screen writer, Gil played by Owen Wilson, visiting Paris with his fiance and her parents. He is a romantic who wants to move to Paris and finish his novel, giving up the emptiness of Hollywood. His fiance is a spoiled rich girl, raised with the charming maxim: cheap is cheap, who wants him to stick with what makes the most cash. She sees no charm in a Paris rain shower or being married to a literary author. He wants a tiny Left Bank flat and Cole Porter playing on a gramophone, she wants Louis Vuitton and $20,000 deck chairs. You can see the problem here and it’s a pretty unremarkable plot so far. What makes the movie is when Gil is picked up in an alley by a 1920′s jalopy and transported back in time to the young days of Hemingway, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and Picasso.
That’s all I will say about the plot, what I really want to talk about is how the Lost Generation characters where portrayed. If you haven’t seen the movie yet and want to be surprised, than obviously don’t read on, but please come back after you have watched MinP and let me know what you thought of it!
I was 100% in this movie for the Fitzgeralds. I was really excited to see how Scott and Zelda would be played. I was hoping for some of their infamous crazy antics and brilliant one-liners. The actors did a wonderful job but I was a little disappointed because the Fitzgeralds did not get as much screen time as I hoped. Not terribly surprising though, after all this wasn’t a Fitzgerald biography. F. Scott was primary portrayed as loving Zelda, possibly to a fault. We didn’t get much of his personality besides that. Zelda was less magnetic than I expected her to be but she did get a great line about drinking being her primary talent.
There are many artists from the 1920s Paris scene, they each basically just make a cameo. We only get a peek at their personalities but it was so much fun to watch. The artist that made the strongest impact on screen, in my opinion, was Hemingway. I’ve never really had much interest in Hemingway, but I was completely taken with him in the movie. I thought the actor really captured Hemingway’s writing style in his performance. He was very deadpan, even monotone, while making these philosophic pronoucements. Arrogant statements, that bordered on ridiculous, but he totally saved it with his sincerity.
No subject is terrible if the story is true, if the prose is clean and honest, and if it affirms courage and grace under pressure.
In retrospect, it makes sense that Hemingway was the strongest artist character in the movie since when Gil is transported back to the 1920s he is basically plopped down right into Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. I had not read A Moveable Feast prior to seeing Midnight in Paris but I enjoyed Hemingway’s character so much that I downloaded it the next day and read straight through. I will be posting on it hopefully later this week.
Another very strong character in the movie, was Gertrude Stein. She is played wonderfully by Kathy Bates. She too has some fantastic lines about art and how to write. You can totally understand why Gil is falling all over himself for her to read and critic his novel.
The artist’s job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.
So big thumbs up for Midnight In Paris. It is so refreshing to see an American movie that embraces art, literature, and history.
I’m going to leave you with some of my own not quite midnight, but evening anyway, photos of Paris. We visited Paris in 2009 and 2011. I have so many gorgeous pics it was hard to choose just a few to share with you. Paris really is the most beautiful city. (Click pics to view larger)
This is the Louvre palace. The way it is lit is breathtaking. It really looks like an impression of an ethereal painting.
Everywhere you look there is something amazing in Paris. I love how you can just spy a beautiful ceiling painting through the window in the above pic.