Say what you will about the movie Midnight in Paris, if nothing else it’s opening provides one of the great visual walkthroughs of one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Watching it while hearing Sidney Bechet’s somber Si Tu Vois Ma Mère perfectly sets the mood for a Paris state of mind.
And before having moved to Paris, the ending of the film acted as a perfect bookend to this beginning, twinkling Eiffel Tower and all. Now, having moved here, I can’t help but notice that Woody Allen lied to me.
1. You don’t randomly bump into casual Parisian acquaintances you’ve just met and then hang out with them. French people don’t want to be your friend. Unless you own a tiny dog. And even then, they’d rather know your dog.
2. Paris is not at its most beautiful in the rain. It’s wet and cold and uncomfortable just like everywhere else. After it rains? That’s a different story.
3. You don’t just whimsically decide to move to Paris (or any foreign country for that matter). There’s nothing whimsical about it. It’s very practical, unromantic and matter-of-fact.
I found the time traveling Peugeot or meet-ups with Hemingway and Fitzgerald more believable than this ending. I fully expect to be transported back in time to the 1920s while in Paris. What I don’t expect is to be welcomed with open arms before I get there.But for all its flaws, Midnight in Paris captures the nostalgic enchantment of Paris that most any expat moving, living or traveling here hopes to experience. And for anyone who finds themselves in the city, day or night or, yes, even in the rain, the basic premise of both the movie and Parisienne life holds true – that if you simply take a seat to enjoy the surrounding moment, you’re bound to see something worthwhile.