Starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, and Marion Cotillard.
Why Facebook Causes Covetousness
With the advent of Facebook, a new form of the grass-is-greener mentality flowers from the ever-present news feed. Each day when we access our social media, we observe the seemingly wonderful and sometimes over-the-top lives of our friends, family, and acquaintances.
Acutely aware of our own mundane existence, we see these contacts and covet their lifestyles. This person got promoted; that person bought a house; this family has a child; that family travels Europe; I’m sitting on a couch; woe is me.
In Woody Allen’s new movie, Midnight in Paris, the acclaimed screenwriter and director confronts this grass-is-greener mentality.
Paris: A Golden City, a Golden Era
Set in modern day Paris, Gil (Owen Wilson) and his fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams), have tagged along with her parents who are in France on business. A prosperous Hollywood screenwriter, Gil carries a privileged life back home but can’t help but be enamored with Paris and its long history of housing fine artists and authors.
As an aspiring literary novelist, Gil is drawn to the idea of moving to Paris and frequenting the bars and cafes that literary giants converged in during the golden era of the 1920s.
During a drunken walk in the Parisian night, Gil finds himself transported through time to the 1920s. After settling from his initial shock, Gil befriends both Fitzgerald and Hemingway, and even finds the opportunity to share his unpublished novel with Gertrude Stein.
Every night at midnight, Gil jumps into an old Puegot and spends the rest of the evening with the many brilliant artists of the 1920s. While with these influential people, Gil befriends Pablo Picasso’s (Marcial Di Fonzo Bo) mistress, Adriana (Marion Cotillard), and falls for her. Struck by the absurdity of his time traveling scenario, Gil thinks nothing of his smitteness until further reflection reveals buried tensions in his relationship with his fiancée.
Why Nostalgia Is Never the Answer
From not wanting to move to Paris, to belittling him amongst friends, Gil finds many reasons for ending the engagement and living in the 1920s. Yet, while spending time with Adrianna, Gil learns that she wishes to live in the 1890s.
This realization, coupled with an understanding that his nostalgia functions as an escape from the mundane job and life he leads in Hollywood, Gil understands that life is a constant coveting other’s situations.
While I enjoyed the writing, acting, and cinematography thoroughly, I found Midnight in Paris lacking in its final conclusions. For the sake of keeping spoilers out of the review, I will not mention the specifics, but suffice to say, given the principle that a realized nostalgia does not equate to a better life, I wish that Gil’s final choices in the movie mimicked this realization.
Life Is Boring, and that’s OK
Likewise, our Facebook browsing never reveals the whole truth. We think that all of our friends are living better lives than we are. But, these people choose to post specific and fun items from their lives. For the most part, we don’t find a friend’s status claiming, “Just finished eating a microwave dinner; can’t wait to watch Jerry Springer tonight!” Such a status is boring. But, you know what? Life is boring. Had Gil permanently time-traveled to 1920s Paris, he would have acclimated and grown frustrated with the mundane.
If you are looking for a well-written movie with an entertaining premise, I recommend Midnight in Paris.
Verdict: 4 out of 5