Through my eyes, films can be categorized as such: light movies or thick movies. Light movies are the ones that provide pure entertainment and may elicit a laugh or two from a person, but could rarely, in common language, "move a person" or leave a resonating impression. And thick movies are the ones that feature beautiful cinematography, or a well-written script with poignant performances that could take a person an emotional journey, or it may be packed with thrilling, fast-paced action scenes. Midnight in Paris falls in the first category, but at the same time has qualities from the second. It is light, one cannot deny that, but it also possesses a certain magic that arguably makes it a classic, which is rare in light movies.
Midnight in Paris is directed by the famed Woody Allen and stars Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, Corey Stoll, Alison Pill, Carla Bruni (The First Lady of France), Michael Sheen, Tom Hiddleston, and more. Some of the names I aforementioned are shockers like Carla Bruni who briefly appeared in a couple of scenes. Now how did Woody Allen get her to act in the film? The story goes that Allen and his wife were having lunch with the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, and his wife Carla, and then Woody suddenly asked her to make a cameo, and she agreed (who says no to Woody Allen, anyways?).
The movie explores the theme of nostalgia, and more specifically nostalgia for a different era, and for the past. Owen Wilson, who is engaged to Rachel McAdams in the film, is a big-shot Hollywood screenwriter that is, in reality, passionate about writing literature. And when he travels with his fiancé to Paris, he struggles to accept the present and desires to live in Paris in the 1920s, the famed decade where artists, writers, and singers Ernest Hemingway, the Fitzgerald’s, Picasso, and more mingled. One night, after getting lost, and when the clock struck midnight, Wilson was lured into a classic luxurious car, and was whisked away to a party. Half intoxicated, he couldn’t believe his eyes when he came into contact with Zelda, and then Scott Fitzgerald (American writer of The Great Gatsby who lived in Paris with his wife). And in the upcoming nights Wilson lived the dream of almost all writers today and interacted with people like Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, and many more. These interactions ultimately led Wilson to the path that he eventually took, which I shall not spoil, and even answered some of life’s basic questions.
On another note, this film did not only leave critics in awe, but it also did remarkably well in the box office. According to Box Office Mojo, on the first weekend that it was released in it garnered $578,805 in just 6 theatres in the United States! That is approximately $96,467 per theater for the first weekend. If you multiply that by 4,000 (movies usually release in 4,000 theatres), then it would be $385,870,000. Of course, it does not mean that it would have earned that if it was released in 4,000 theatres, I am just giving you an estimate. It is officially the highest grossing film of 2011 in terms of average per theatre, and is the 13th highest grossing film of all time.
If you’re yearning to witness Zelda Fitzgerald’s notoriously fickle and moody nature (that led to F. Scott’s depression), or Hemingway’s short-temper, or even Picasso’s odd behavior, then this is the film to watch. And if you’re looking for a smart, witty, funny, light and unpredictable comedy, then once again, this is the movie to watch. I, for one, know what movie I will take my father to the minute he lands in the US (though I watched it two times already).
– Abdulaziz Al-Wazzan