Thursday, May 26, 2011

An American in Paris

Woody bursts in creativity as usual, directing non-stop, but this is certainly not such an imaginative moment in his career (it hits me, though, why the heck did they let him open Cannes Film Festival with this film). Maybe his peak is already over and we are just yearning for more of what we are never gonna have again. Audience is hard to please, audience is carnivorous when it's deceited, so it has to be given at least beautiful surroundings, Parisian ones, and alluring leads, but is it enough?

Another epoque is what we all long for, it seems. Woody Allen himself plays in Midnight in Paris with movie-making of a former period, romantic film-making; we can see it straight away from the opening credits, the fonts he uses, the music that is so dear to him and the opening sequence, where he presents Paris in a picturesque , yet banal way during the lenght of a whole song, a sequence which is raté, mind me, as it is horribly edited and not so beautifully filmed either (that taken into account, the romantic style Allen creates with the couple kissing in front of a Monet-like background etc. soon fades away to give its place to blatant reality: boring dinners, uninteresting acquaintances, so little wit in the air, a total contrast to the 20s that are around the corner for the lucky one). Some of the main characters also idolise the past --and me too, the director's past, that is. Things do improve, but they do not reach levels of awe at any point. Maybe slightly when Marion Cotillard appears from a distance. But let's leave this for later and look at the protagonist first.

Owen Wilson is much better when crashing weddings or travelling with a train named Darjeeling Limited or doing whatever stupid thing it is, than when taking over Woody's neurotic persona. But, there's always a second side of the coin, which cites: he is a great actor, if he succeeds so well in annoying us, being the spitting image of the director. I have to aknowledge both statements, as they are equally true. The rest is a matter of choice.

Along the same lines Rachel McAdams, lovely, fresh and hyper-talented, was very successful in playing a neurotic spoilt young woman, shallow and easily enthused by the wrong things. Fake connaisseurs, the standard way of being, the surface without the content catch her attention, while the quest for something noble leaves her unimpressed. Which makes her common life with her fiancé very complicated, as they both like each other only by appearence, which at least they find out soon enough. She may be a little bit on the overplaying side, though; so many uncontrolled gestures towards the ending and such a high pitched voice. But, then it could still be Ines, the character behind all that, who learnt to act in everyday life like as if in a brazilian soap opera.

Then comes the sweetest of them all, the most radiant girl in France, Marion Cotillard and fixes what is broken, together with a clan of culture aficionados like F.Scott Fitzerald, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Bunuel and the like. Hanging out together in the Parisian nightlife of the 20's exchanging praise or preys, they make a lovely scene. These back in time moments are "easy" scenes, nevertheless with less excitement that awaited, that is less Allen and more old age fatigue. Highly enjoyable, still, due to fine acting and situation bizzarerie, not to mention the artistic work of the costume and set design department.

The obvious discrepancy between the poor scenario (a Hollywood script-writer and renowed author wannabe visits Paris and falls in love with it, leaving his cute fiancé aside and running after his litterary idols until he realises that he wants to lead the life of a bohemian and not the one of a bourgeois) and dialogue and the good work from the all-star-cast which includes, apart from the ones mentioned, Adrien Brody, Carla Bruni, Kathy Bates, Michael Sheen, Léa Seydoux and the big-in-France Gad Elmaleh leaves us wondering: should we call it a day and quit great expectations? Even the clin d'oeuil, trying to imply that every era has its own charm, drawing parallels to the evolution of his oeuvre, is not convincing. Because, in the end of the day, wit, ladies and gentlemen, cannot be compensated and is greatly missed, when not around any longer.

1 comment:

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