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If I could live anywhere, it would be a night in Paris in the 1920s.
Midnight in Paris is a 2011 comedy/fantasy film directed by Woody Allen.
Owen Wilson -- the latest actor to be handed Allen's "screen persona" nebbish character -- plays Gil, a hack but successful Hollywood screenwriter who dreams of writing novels. He and his fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) are in Paris to visit her parents; Gil falls in love with the city while Inez dreams of living in a Malibu suburb. One night, as Inez and her friends go out dancing, Gil takes a walk and discovers a magical part of Paris. He continues to travel there, much to Inez's anger and suspicion.
Midnight seems to have joined Match Point and Vicky Cristina Barcelona as one of Allen's more acclaimed later films. It has also seemingly struck a chord with audiences and become Allen's highest grossing film domestically (a title previously held by Hannah and Her Sisters in the 80's) and internationally.
The film became the first Allen film since Hannah that was nominated for Best Picture. Allen also received a Best Director nomination and won Best Original Screenplay.
Warning: spoilers ahead.
Midnight in Paris contains examples of:
- Actor Allusion: Rachel McAdams playing the wife (well, technically fiancee) of a time traveller. Or playing a nasty, blonde girl who cheats on her partner.
- An Aesop: the moral of the story is spoken out loud both in the beginning (by Paul) and in the end (by Gil), just in case you didn't get it.
- Author Avatar: As is customary with Woody Allen films, main character Gil is a stand-in for Woody Allen, from the tucked-in shirts Gil wears to the nervous way Gil talks. He also leaves his fiancee and hooks up with a much younger woman.
- Badass Spaniard: Juan Belmonte, the Toreador (bullfighter), at least for Hemingway.
- Bilingual Bonus: It helps to have a working knowledge of French while watching this film. Spanish could come in handy too.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Hemingway.
- Book Ends: The film opens and closes with scenes of Paris in the rain.
- Born in the Wrong Century: Gil believes that he would have fit in with the writers and artists of 1920s Paris. He gets to go back and find out firsthand. Further, he falls in love with Adriana, who believes this about herself with the 1890s. She chooses to live in her beloved time period; Gil doesn't.
- Truthfully, this movie is a Deconstruction of the trope. Other characters, past and present, point out how Gil wishes to drown himself in nostalgia. It ties in with the film's overall existential motifs of searching and wandering. At the end, Gil has a moment of clarity. If he settles in this era, he'll only long for another proverbial "golden age." It's a neverending cycle of dissatisfaction. At the end of the film, he finally comes to terms with the present and settles into a far more content existence.
- Even the characters in France's Belle Epoque wish they were born during the Renaissance. On and on it goes...
- Kind of Truth in Television with Gauguin, who dreamed of escaping European civilization of his time and ended up in Tahiti.
- The private investigator that Inez's parents hired tries to follow the car Gil takes but ends up lost in 17th-century Versailles, which would be his "golden age" if the patterns held true.
- Butch Lesbian: Gertrude Stein is the 1920s version of this trope.
- It says a lot for a woman's masculinity when Ernest Hemingway has respect for her.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Salvador Dali. Gil is also seen as this by Inez and her parents.
- Cassandra Truth: Gil tries to tell his fiancee about his experiences, leading her to think he may have a brain tumor. When he tries to tell the surrealists about his coming from the future, they think he's speaking metaphorically.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Gabrielle the antique dealer whom Gil meets earlier in the film ends up becoming his Third Option Love Interest at the film's end (or so its implied).
- Dark Horse Victory: Throughout the whole movie, the audience wonders if Gil will choose Inez or Adrianna. He ends up with the down-to-earth antiques dealer, Gabrielle.
- Disposable Fiance: Inez; a female example.
- Fan Service: Inez unloading luggage from the car.
- Gay Paree
- The Gay Nineties: Adrianna's "Golden Age."
- Genre Busting: It's a sci-fi/fantasy/romantic comedy/drama.
- Happy Rain: Gil loves it when it rains in Paris. Gabrielle does as well.
- Historical In-Joke: In spades.
- I Choose to Stay: Subverted with Gil. Played straight with Adrianna.
- Insufferable Genius: Subverted with Paul (the genius part, not the insufferable part). Inez thinks he's brilliant, but Gil, the female tour guide, and the audience know that he's not.
- Interrupted Suicide: Zelda Fitzgerald.
- Doomed by Canon: She'll eventually succeed.
- In the Past Everyone Will Be Famous: The Movie.
- It's All About Me: Inez, who doesn't seem to give a rat's ass about anything Gil says or wants.
- It's Not Supposed to Win Oscars: Gil is a writer of these kinds of films. He hates them, Inez and her parents love them.
- Jerkass: Inez, her parents, and Paul. They have no qualms about openly ridiculing Gil even in his presence.
- Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Paul Bates, whom a museum guide refers to as "the pedantic gentleman".
- Large Ham: Hemingway and Dali.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It's never explained or even discussed how Gil or Adrianna, or the detective time travel.
- Meaningful Name: As with Stardust Memories, a character has the last name of "Bates". Think about it.
- Most Writers Are Writers: The main character is a writer trying to put the finishing touches on his novel.
- Noodle Incident: Adrianna tells Gil that she and her friends once hired a prostitute to "teach them what she knew." As a result, Gil seems torn between shock and amusement.
- Off with His Head: The likely fate of the detective in 17th Century France.
- One-Scene Wonder:
- Only Sane Man:
- Politically-Correct History: All the men in the 1920s treat the women with the same level of respect as other men. If you buy the idea that it's all in Gil's head, then this makes sense as it's his idealized version of the 1920's.
- The Roaring Twenties: The "Golden Age" for Gil.
- Rich Bitch: Inez, she first openly complains about Gil's gift to her because it was too cheap, and decides the show her parents how bad it is. She, along with her parents, is shown to have a patronizing view on the working class, going so far as calling Gil out for trying to defend the hotel maid (whom she suspects of stealing from her, and is totally innocent). She also openly admits to cheating on her fiancé (with a married guy, by the way) as if it's something trivial and is then shocked when he decides to leave her.
- Scenery Porn: The movie starts with several lovely shots of Paris. Every scene makes Paris look fantastic, both in the past and the present.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Paul Bates.
- Smoking Is Glamorous: Zelda and Adrianna.
- Spoiled Brat: Inez.
- Stable Time Loop: If it wasn't, wouldn't Zelda have killed herself?
- Not necessarily as Adrianna may have stopped Zelda without help from Gil.
- Strawman Republican: Inez's Dad.
- Testosterone Poisoning: Ernest Hemingway.
- Third Option Love Interest: Gil doesn't end up with either Inez or Adrianna, rather Gabrielle, a young French woman.
- This Is Going to Be Huge: / It Will Never Catch On: Gil gives Luis Buñuel the basic plot of The Exterminating Angel. Buñuel is puzzled.
Buñuel: Why can't they leave?
- Trailers Always Lie: The trailer deliberately hides the Time Travel aspects of the story, making it seem like Gil has found something contemporary. Reviews and news stories, on the other hand...
- The trailer also implies the 'disappearance' of the detective following Gil is a major plot point instead of the minor Brick Joke it is in the film.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: Some of the people Gil meets aren't as well known as others. Knowledge of Luis Bunuel's filmography is required to get one joke in particular.
- The Wonka: Ernest Hemingway could qualify as one, as would Salvador Dali.
- Writers Suck: Gil believes this about himself, at least with his screenwriting.