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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Midnight in Paris

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

Director/writer Woody Allen’s film opened the Cannes Film Festival earlier this month and it is indeed one of his best films in a long time; clever, sharp, entertaining and though not overly self-conscious as Allen’s films can be, the litany of writers and artists in the film meet Allen’s cinematic requirement for neurosis.

Gil (Owen Wilson) is in Paris with his fiancé Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her parents who have business in the city of lights. Gil is a screenwriter trying to write a novel about a man who runs a nostalgia shop. When a friend of Inez, Paul (Michael Sheen) and his wife run into them in a restaurant, Gil wants nothing to do with the boorish, pseudo-intellectual professor. Instead of dancing, he goes for a walk.

At midnight, a vintage car stops in front of him, and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston) and his wife Zelda (Alison Pill) invite him to come along to a party. There he meets expats, or the famous Lost Generation, from America and other countries who form the vibrant artist community of Paris in the 1920s; include Cole Porter and Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel.

The funniest encounter is with Hemingway who tosses off words straight from his novels with references to his “A Moveable Feast” and seems itching for a fight. Gil runs into a litany of famous people and falls for Picasso’s mistress, Adrianna (Marion Cotillard)  who wants to live in 1890’s Paris, the city’s “Golden Age”.

Hemingway, or Fitzgerald, tells Gil that “Nostalgia is a flaw of the romantic imagination” and that nostalgia is denial.

There’s something to this, I think. After one of my younger sisters and I saw the 1992 Merchant-Ivory period masterpiece “Howard’s End”, she said, “I was born in the wrong place and the wrong time.” And then she sighed as she grasped her young daughter’s hand to return home.

Gil realizes that living in the present, while appreciating the past, is probably the best way –and that the icons of the past were just humans, too, gifted and flawed. And he decides to move to Paris.




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