Midnight in Paris is a two-hour cliche. It’s predictable, it’s mostly unoriginal in its message, and it recycles pretty much every Pinterest post about Paris an assembles them all to come from Owen Wilson’s noble, overflowing, golden-age obsessed character.
But like Woody Allen’s best work, and Midnight in Paris is certainly one of his better movies, the film’s strength is in its ability to embrace the broken record and turn it into something that – eventually – doesn’t condone Wilson’s dreamy idealism or Rachel McAdams’ stuffy wet blanket-ism. It just acknowledges it.
Like this quote, when Marion Cotillard’s ‘art groupie’ asks Wilson whether Paris is more beautiful by day or by night:
No, you can’t, you couldn’t pick one. I mean I can give you a checkmate argument for each side. You know, I sometimes think, how is anyone ever gonna come up with a book, or a painting, or a symphony, or a sculpture that can compete with a great city. You can’t. Because you look around and every street, every boulevard, is its own special art form and when you think that in the cold, violent, meaningless universe that Paris exists, these lights, I mean come on, there’s nothing happening on Jupiter or Neptune, but from way out in space you can see these lights, the cafés, people drinking and singing. For all we know, Paris is the hottest spot in the universe.