It’s been a difficult few years for us Woody fans, who have watched the great man deliver ordinary film after ordinary film (the exception being the fine Whatever Works), impelling us to retreat to our DVD collection of Manhattans and Annie Halls. Now the good news. The great man’s 41st film, Midnight in Paris, is an absolute treat of a movie; combining the Woodman’s love of the City of Light with his passion for the Art Deco era, all played out using a superb ensemble cast.
The story concerns an American couple, Owen Wilson and Rachel MacAdams, whose trip to Paris only serves to point out how incompatible they are. He’s a dreamer; a novelist who delights in walking the streets of Paris after midnight: she prefers to party with pseudo intellectual Michael Sheen. It’s on one such nocturnal excursion that the story (I don’t want to give the marvellous plot conceit away here; hence the brevity of this review) really kicks in and turns a charming movie into an absolute delight. The French have always loved Woody’s work; they're likely to parade him down the boulevards when they see this one.
Indeed just as Gordon Willis turned New York into a thing of beauty in Manhattan, so Darius Khondji has created a Paris of wonderment here. On the acting front, Wilson has never been better. He is perfect casting for that ''Woody role'', occupied in previous films by the likes of John Cusack, Jason Biggs and Kennth Branagh. But you can't fault any of the ensemble cast, including MacAdams, Sheen, the imperious Cotillard and (briefly) Carla Bruni. Listen out for some cracking one-liners, including a belter about Luis Bunuel. Gem.