Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I just left this movie and drove home in the dark through a few neighboring towns with the car windows down and the mini-heatwave of the past few days beginning to cool down, though the air is still hot but it's breezy (leaving the theater into a street with several outdoor cafes and being hit with a wave of warm air dancing around people in the street the warmth felt like something alive and intimate and actually very satisfying) with the Newark jazz station on and a trumpet blowing a slow and mellow version of "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" I couldn't stop grinning and feeling like I'd just fallen in love.

Maybe with the movie, maybe with Paris—which the movie is a love letter to in the way most of Woody Allen's past movies were love letters to New York—maybe with the heartbreakingly lovely Marion Cottilard who features prominently in the film and is worth the price of admission alone, or with the refreshingly lovely Lea Seydoux who seems to be another of Woody's delightful discoveries in the way even actors you've seen in films before often are in his movies, or maybe just with love itself.

I can't imagine seeing it in my (or your) living room with the distractions of lights and street sounds would have the same impact as watching it in a theater packed with people from their late teens to the guy next to me who could easily be in his eighties, sitting in the dark and sharing the communal experience including the loud laughers, like me. But however you can see it, see it. It's not the most profound movie experience you'll ever have I'm sure, but as with all of Allen's movies, it is profound in its own way, and it may not be the utmost romantic film you've ever seen, but like most of his flicks, it is definitely very romantic, and it might not be the most seriously funny movie of all time, but it is most assuredly a seriously funny movie.

The best thing I can say about the experience is this, that of all the people in the small theater I saw it in, who occupied almost every seat there, no one, young or old or in between, not one person stood up when the credits came on. Everyone stayed seated for at least several minutes and a lot of credits before one or two began to get up, and even then, most of the audience stayed seated. If they were sharing my experience, it was because they just didn't care to have the spell broken yet.

And isn't that why we love movies, especially going to see them in darkened theaters with a roomful of strangers? Because the best cast a spell we don't want to break until we absolutely have to. Maybe days later, or even hours, or minutes, we might think the film was slight or merely entertaining or fun but forgettable, but when they work, while we're under their spell, we want it to last forever. At least I do. And just did.

[PS: It' also worth seeing for the performances, not just Cottilard's and Seydoux's—as brief as the latter's is—but for Kathy Bates pulling off a convincing Gertrude Stein and Adrien Brody's surprisingly hilarious and totally engaging Salvador Dali, and Corey Stoll's Hemingway (these are part parodies but also part succinct and accurate characterizations of the historical personages) and the foils to Owen Wilson's lead, Michael Sheen (the guy who played Tony Blair in THE QUEEN) as an American academic insufferably full of himself and Rachel McAdams as the beautiful but "ugly American."]


Anonymous said...

Well said...the movie indeed casts a spell.

TIM said...

This may be Woody's best in a long time. He had a similar film that left the same kind of emotions you wrote about: Hannah and her Sisters.