I have a love and hate relationship with Woody Allen.
So much so that I only watched Midnight in Paris because it was being played at my gym. The movie was so interesting that I ended up working out for much longer that I wanted to.
Midnight in Paris is about a young Hollywood writer, Gil, who is inexplicably transported to 1920’s Paris every night. There he gets a chance to enjoy the company of Hemingway, Dali and Bunuel – all extremely creative people unlike the snooze that are his fiancé and friends in the present.
While none of the characters understands Gil’s nostalgia, the movie supposes the audience does.
I, for one, am normally very pessimistic about the present and being in a gym where everybody (including myself) is spending lots of money, time and energy on losing weight through moronic exercises probably enhanced the feeling that we are all in pretty bad shape.
Don’t expect a great conclusion to Gil’s dilemma though.
Between a barren, boring present and an electrifying past he will compromise. The only problem with that is that is a bit conformist and not original. Conformist because there is a big difference between dreaming of living in the past and looking at your present critically. Not original because how many recent movies end with the message: “be happy in the present, follow your dreams, don’t sell out and find a quirky girl who loves you for who you are”? Of the top of my head I can think of Stranger than Fiction, Little Miss Sunshine and Ruby Sparks.
What’s strange is how Gil came to terms with the present. It's only because he discovers everybody is nostalgic and unhappy with their present - whatever that time that is.
It's what Woody Allen puts in the mouth of one of his characters "The present is unsatisfying because life is”.
It's as if life would be awful no matter what time period you live in, which is a little tricky.
On one hand, people that are nihilists like Allen would definitely be unsatisfied with the present no matter when they lived in (just like people that find a purpose in life manage to live well in any era).
On the other, it's not like all time periods have the same advantages or disadvantages. Living in one period is not the same as living in another, as any grandpa can tell you.
I wonder if deep down Allen believes Gil will be happy.
I'd say, based on his other movies, that he thinks Gil should be happy his life is not totally horrible. But I guess anyone who thinks life is that unsatisfying cannot be happy for long.
What did you think of Midnight in Paris? What time would you like to live in? (I'm highly favorable to the 1920's myself)