By Judy Berman
What if you could step back in time in an exotic location?
One year, while vacationing in Paris, my husband and I traipsed along the streets late at night in a misty rain. As we did, I wondered what if … what if we lived here. How would our lives change?
It was a romantic notion. Our French was minimal. But, I rationalized that could be overcome by immersing ourselves in the culture and language.
That idealism glossed over that our family would be living on the other side of the pond and the outlook for a job – with our having limited French-speaking skills – would be bleak.
What would you do?
Suppose, it’s late at night. You’re out alone on the streets of Paris. An older model car slows to a stop near you. The passengers look like they’re headed to a party. They’re dressed in 1920s clothing and beckon you to join them. On an impulse, you jump in.
What happens next? You go to a tavern and meet the creative talents of another era. It’s magical and it all seems so real.
That’s the premise of the Woody Allen film, “Midnight in Paris.” (2011) Owen Wilson (as Gil) is a successful Hollywood writer. He wants to move to Paris and leave his lucrative career behind to write a book about a man in a nostalgia shop.
His fiancé, Inez (played by Rachel McAdams) dismisses his dream. She loves the idea of marrying a Hollywood writer and wants to live in Malibu.
This is not the only area where the two clash. When Gil takes long walks in the City of Lights, it’s not just creative inspiration he’s searching for. But he doesn’t realize that at first.
The ride takes him back in time to the 1920s which he views as the golden age when several ex-pats were living in Paris. At the party, he meets Corey Stoll (as author Ernest Hemingway), Kathy Bates (as Gertrude Stein), Tom Hiddleston (as F. Scott Fitzgerald), and Alison Pill (as Zelda Fitzgerald).
Gil idolizes Hemingway and is thrilled when the literary great says he’ll show the book to Gertrude Stein. Gil dashes back to his hotel to retrieve his manuscript. But when he returns, the tavern where he met Hemingway and his new friends are gone. Without explanation, Gil is back in the present.
For several nights, Gil continues his time travel. As he does he begins to fall in love with a woman from the 1920s. But, just as Gil feels torn about the path to take, so does the young woman. He toys with the idea of staying. When he discovers that Inez is cheating on him, it appears fate is clearing the way for him to justify returning to the past.
What would you do? It’s tempting to think that life would be better in another time, another place. Or, would you decide that despite life’s bumps and bruises that the here and now is really the best place of all?
If you’d like to explore that premise, check out Ronnie Hammer’s blog. She writes about her book club’s discussion of “Dreaming in French” by Alice Kaplan. Her book describes three young women in the 1950s and 60s – Jacqueline Bouvier, Susan Sontag and Angela Davis – who spent part of their youth in Paris. Here is the link: http://morristownmemos.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/book-club-meeting/
Video Movie Clip: “Midnight in Paris,” with Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Corey Stoll and Kathy Bates.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atLg2wQQxvU
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Photo: Midnight in Paris. Photo taken by McKay Savage from London, UK http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b1/Midnight_in_Paris_%286287019647%29.jpg
Photo: Eiffel Tower – Paris photo taken by Poco a poco on Feb. 14, 2010 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/96/Eiffel-Tower_Paris_Feb2010.jpg/640px-Eiffel-Tower_Paris_Feb2010.jpg
Photo: Bateau-Mouche (boat tours) on Seine River in Paris near the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Photo taken by Jebulon on April 2, 2011 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/15/Bateau-Mouche_Notre-Dame.jpg/603px-Bateau-Mouche_Notre-Dame.jpg