Culture, Screen

Woody Allen in the time of Paris

To dream of the City of Light, longing for the nostalgias of past times, and to look within oneself. All this in order to devour with imagination and originality that unbelievable and subtle peak of the lightness of being.

Fausto Triana

Woody Allen suddenly comes along and dares to squeeze us into his space between four walls.

A space so wide and imaginative as to present us with Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Salvador Dalí, Cole Porter and Luis Buñuel amongst others.

An apparently banal and simple act, it is marked by the genius of an inescapable although at times controversial, filmmaker.

In any case, it is worth seeing his ‘Midnight in Paris’, a midnight unveiled for those who yearn to know if any past time was indeed better. He does not lose the custom of offering us his hallmark, with a marked accent.

As usual he does it with intelligence and talent.  Neither does he hide the triviality of his publicity and commercial games. Ultimately, filming in Paris requires a large sum of money, a huge amount, because on top of being the fifth most expensive city in the world, he strives to demonstrate it with just the slightest hint of fame and glamour.

So, it is impressive that he has managed to include Carla Bruni in the cast. Currently France’s First Lady, the Italian ex model and singer, fulfils her role as a guide of the Rodin Museum, no less.

And Allen gives another angle, assuring us that Nichoas Sarkozy would be like Humphrey Bogart in the cinema. In style, it introduces a proposal in which there is always a possibility of inconstancy: time travel in the form of a romantic comedy.

Transporting us into dreams of which we will surely all want to be judge and protagonist.

Owen Wilson, Allen’s very successful alter ego, along with the statuesque Rachel McAdams, the super sensual Marion Cotillard and the fresh Lea Seydoux, as well as the always solid Kathy Bates,plus a group of men including Michael Sheen, Adrien Brody and Tom Hiddleston.

Allow me to comment on the actors, as well as Wilson (Gil) and the blinding halo of seduction of Cotillard (Adriana), an excellent discovery has been made with Corey Stoll (Hemingway) and the maiden flight of Brody (Dali).

To round off the picture, references can be taken from ‘The Purple Rose of Cairo’ (1985), ‘Mighty Aphrodite’ (1995), ‘Deconstructing Harry’ (1997), alongside the inevitable ‘Annie Hall’ (1978), ‘Hannah and her sisters’ (1987), and to leave as an oversight the caricature of ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’.

Paris… a party

With all of this seasoning, Allen’s intentions become evident, and welcome, starting with his declaration of love for Paris.  After there follows, in turn, the melancholy of human ambition, the permanent inconformity and the acceptance of the reality.

His fine irony when American clichés on Europe are ruined, the impudence of the ultra right ‘Tea Party’, the fascination for inescapable essences from all periods and optimism, hope and love is all there.

Buñuel is fascinated with Gil’s idea to film a group of high bourgeoisie that could not leave a room, the divisions around ‘Exterminating Angel’ and the apparent well-resolved nonsense of  ‘Moulin Rouge’, Lautrec, Degas and Gaugin. Jean Cocteau’s parties, a disobedient Picasso, Monet’s Water lilies, Zelda Fitzgerald’s jealousy is all a sharp immersion in the soul without attempting to give formal lectures to the audience.

With the generous and beautiful photography of Darius Khondji, Allen looks through the window of his imagination to take a profound breath of fresh air.

He follows this up with a range of devoted actors and promising new faces. He takes risks in his own melancholy and does not complicate it with logical solutions.  There is an intention and the flight is high, perhaps complacent but not at all trivial.

It finishes like Hemingway, in his celebrated version, Parais was a Party.

It does not appear to go too much in depth and, skirts around the ‘gourmet’, to leave us a bursting taste on the lips.  It is as if one suspects that it is not the ‘the masterpiece’, but something close. (PL) (Translated by Emily Russell – Email:

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