Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Cannes: Day One - Midnight in Paris

Cannes has officially begun! It's a little nuts, but that's expected from one of the most important festivals in the world.

The whole gong-show was kicked off by none other than Woody Allen, a Cannes alumni, who opened the festival with his new film Midnight in Paris.

Midnight in Paris is Allen's latest film to fully feature a European city. Just as Vicky Christina Barcelona highlighted the eponymous city, Allen turns his camera to familiar Parisian sights as a backdrop for his newest narrative.

Paris features Gil Pender (Owen Wilson), who is an aspiring author touring the City of Lights with his fiance Ines (Rachel McAdams) and her parents. You have to wonder, though, where the initial connection was made between Gil and Ines, because it's apparent from the beginning that they simply aren't compatible. Gil's a romantic - he wants to walk in the rain - and Ines wants to go antiquing and other matters Gil blatantly doesn't care about. After a night of excessive wine-tasting, Gil decides to walk home, fatefully stumbling upon a group of party animals named Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Can you see where this is going? The Gatsby writer whisks him off to a party that's filled with other iconic auteurs from the 1920s, and Gil's normal life pales in comparison.

Now bored with his bride-to-be, he continues to escape to the past to visit his artistic inspirations in person, chatting them up about his incomplete book and his failing love life, which is made all the more difficult when Ines gets frustrated at Gil's now-constant midnight walks - the only way Gil can go to the past.

Surprisingly though, the movie works quite well. There's a lot of laughs that come from the nature of the name-dropping that Woody weaves into the script, and I would be remiss to spoil the famous artists of the 1920's that Gil encounters. Imagine them as punchlines: it's no fun ruining the joke. Okay, fine, he meets Hemingway. But there's many others, and it doesn't get old.

There's always to-ing and fro-ing in a Woody Allen movie, but Midnight in Paris is cute and unassuming. It's a love letter to Paris, and the result is a light, easy-to-digest film that's simply fun to watch. A great start to Cannes, too. It's set a noticeable effect on the press here, who also seem to have taken to Allen's attempt at a return to form.

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