Watched Apr 13, 2012
Grant Berridge’s review:
I love Paris, and this film made me very nostalgic for the city. A subtext of the story is that simply strolling around a lively city at night with no purpose will expose you to new and exciting experiences. I find that idea very compelling and romantic.
There is a strong fantasy element to the film, and even some low-key time-travelling (although it's not explored deeply enough to excite sci-fi fans), but the film is overall closer in pitch to Before Sunrise than Back to the Future. If you've seen and loved Before Sunrise, then there's a strong likelihood that you'll enjoy this.
Woody Allen has clearly invited the cast to improvise a lot of scenes. Owen Wilson is absolutely fearless in this, and delivers some fantastic ad-libs. Rachel McAdams is quite obviously less experienced with this style, and a few of her scenes could have been improved with a second take.
Interestingly, an intimacy comes from this, and I wasn't distracted by her technical errors so much as I was gently shaken out of the story so that I could see it from a slightly "meta" point of view, observing the character and the actress independently. The idea of "meta" interpretation is one of the themes of the film (as is "pseudo intellectualism"!), and it has been said that Allen is a genius, so perhaps this is not so much a weakness in acting technique on McAdam's part as an exploitation of that weakness as a directorial technique related to Brecht's Verfremdungseffekt? Or perhaps it was a trap for pseudo-intellectuals like me?
There are many such traps laid in the dialogue for Michael Sheen's amusing personification of either pseudo-intellectualism or intellectualism, depending on your personal interpretation. Just as Deckard was a replicant, I claim that Paul is in fact an intellectual, even though almost all of his dialogue was lifted from the first pages of a handful of wikipedia entries.
As an aside, in a post-Revenge of the Nerds society, why do we disparage people for demonstrating their knowledge? This isn't the theme of the film, but there's a strong subtext, and I suspect that Allen has been the target of a few "pseudo-intellectual" barbs.
This is a lovely film. Go and see it with your lover, and then go to Paris in the summer and have some romantic night-time walks.