I saw “Midnight in Paris” on Friday.
I loved it. LOVED it.
There is something about stories and movies that stir something inside of me. Movies truly do touch an inner sanctum of my emotions — when I let them.
And this one really touched me.
I’m an on-again off-again fan of Woody Allen. I love some of his stuff. And I hate some of his stuff. But I will admit, he takes chances and he knows how to tell a story.
Midnight in Paris centers on Gil Bender and his fiance’s time in Paris. Gil is a writer (a “Hollywood Hack” he says, but we get the impression he makes a lot of money off screenplays). But he has dreams of being a real writer, and is working on his first novel. In the meantime, his fiance, played by Rachel McAdams, is busily preparing for a luxurious life in Malibu after Paris is over. She seems annoyed by his love of Paris, of walks in the rain, of his fantasizing about how wonderful it would be to live in the 1920s in Paris.
Then, one night on a drunken stroll, Gil is picked up in a 1920s type of car at the stroke of midnight and is whisked away to a nightlife in Paris — back in 1920. As Gil goes back each night, he interacts with Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald (and Zelda), Pablo Picasso, and Gertrude Stein, to name a few.
It’s a whimsical, dream-like sort of experience. Gil himself can’t really tell whether he is losing his mind or experiencing real life. And frankly, I don’t think Woody Allen wants the viewer to decide one way or the other. It just is what it is.
And I loved this. I love Hemingway. I love Fitzgerald. I love Europe and the cobblestone streets and sidewalk cafes. So I was drawn to the movie just based on the scenery and the interactions with some of my favorite authors of all-time.
But what touched me was the deeper meaning behind the story (and classic move of Woody Allen) — that grass always seems greener on the other side. For some of us, the past (or even future) is what we dream of. Gil continually talks about how much he’d love to live in the Golden era (the 1920s in Paris). That is the dream! And he’s living in it (sort of). Then he meets Adriana, a love interest of Picasso and Hemingway and eventually Gil. And as he falls for her, she tells him how much she’d love to live in the 1890s in Paris! Of course, “time” takes them there, and she refuses to leave! Why? Because now she has found the “grass that is greener” on the other side.
Eventually, Gil ends up back in the present, leaves his fiance, decides to live in Paris, and meets a woman who loves walking in the rain.
Here’s the major takeaway and why it struck a chord for me: All we have is the present. That’s it! We can dream of a better future (when I have this, then I’ll be…feel…do). Man, life used to be so much better back then, if we could just go back to doing…feeling…being). I live in this place a lot!
But how do I want to live? I want to live fully present. I want to be here. Today. This moment. Engaged. And not wanting of anything else.
Go see this movie. Do yourself a favor!