In the mid 9o I was lucky enough to attend a course of cinema history at university: it was about Woody Allen. I had rarely watched his movies before, but I had the chance to make up for that: we watched ALL his movies , from Take the Money and Run (1969) to Mighty Aphrodite (1995). I fell in love with some of his works (I’m particularly fond of the late 70s-80s period), so I’m always excited when a new Allen movie comes out. I must admit I have never watched most of the movies he directed in 2000s, but I want to see them all, sooner or later.
His latest work – Midnight in Paris – was presented at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2011, and has quickly become very successful: the magical setting, the all-star cast, the incredible time travel are elements which have a great appeal on the audience. I’m a hopeless nostalgic and I’ve got a passion for Anglo-American literature, so you can imagine the impression it made on me. I watched the movie in complete awe, also thanks to the impressive eye candy that Allen provided to designer bag lovers like me.
Three of the main characters – Inez (Rachel McAdams), her mother Helen (Mimi Kennedy) and her friend Carol (Nina Arianda) – sport great bags and luggage by French luxury labels. Though different from each other, they are symbols of American upper class – active, rich, refined, understated, focused on money, “exotic” purchases and activities; pragmatic women who clearly don’t understand the importance of dreaming and dismiss it as madness or a waste of time and energies.
Inez is the soon-to-be bride of the protagonist, Gil Pender (Owen Wilson). She’s the classic American beauty: she has a simple yet refined style, which includes expensive statement bags. The first bag she sports in the opening scene is a Chanel piece – a chain strap tote from the spring 2010 collection.
During their stay in Paris, the protagonists live at the Hotel Le Bristol (the same hotel where Woody Allen stayed during the filming): in their room, many designer luggage can be seen. In the screencap above, for example, we are introduced to another French luxury brand – Goyard. Inez owns a trunk (an old-fashioned and elegant piece of luggage, somehow reminiscent of the past that Gil loves so much) and a white cosmetic pouch.
In one of the funniest scenes – Gil is ready to meet the woman he has fallen in love with, Adriana (Marion Cotillard), who lives in the 1920s, but Inez and her parents unexpectedly come back from Mont Saint-Michel – we see another Goyard item. It’s the lovely jewellery box from where Gil has taken a pair of earrings to give Adriana.
In the first scene set at the hotel where Inez and Gil meet her parents, I spotted another Goyard bag on a hotel guest – a Comores tote bag.Sonia Grande, the costume designer of the movie, knows Hermés bags are among the most coveted bags in the world, so she made a selection of gorgeous Hermés pieces for us to lust over.
This bag is stunning! I’ve always thought I’m a Kelly lover, but now I can safely say I’m a Constance lover, too. I like statement bags in bright colours, but the caramel shade of Inez’s Constance is to die for.
Helen, Inez’s mother, is a Birkin lover, which is not coincidental. She’s a pragmatic woman, who believes in money and understatement; she doesn’t flaunt her wealth with over-the-top accessories, but still carries bags which are status symbols. She carries two 30 cm Birkins in the movie: one of them is made of crocodile.
Carol is the wife of Paul (Michael Sheen), the most disagreeable character, an American professor who is in Paris to hold lectures at the Sorbonne University. His knowledge about art, history and literature is apparently boundless, and he’s an expert in French wines, too. Carol is presented as a shallow woman, who pronounces French words wrong and who totally goes along with her husband’s wishes. In most scenes, she carries a cute small shoulder bag, worn cross body, but in the screencap above a gorgeous Hermés Jige clutch can be seen.
As I have already explained, I loved the movie for its incredible time travelling: Gil is lucky enough to meet an incredible number of great artists, geniuses from different countries who came to Paris to enjoy its cultural liveliness. When he steps into the house of Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas, I must admit I jumped on my seat. I felt a weird sensation, like stepping into the pages of a book I love very much.
I’m referring to Album Hemingway, published in November 1988, a photographic book collecting pictures of Ernest Hemingway, from his birth to his death. The years he lived in Paris – from 1921 to 1928 – are well documented.
This is another portrait by Man Ray. On the walls of the sitting room there are many paintings by contemporary artists who frequently visited Stein and Toklas. Stein was a writer herself who greatly influenced people like Pablo Picasso (who painted her portrait in 1906), Georges Braque, Sherwood Anderson, Ezra Pound and Ernest Hemingway. She was the one who coined the term “lost generation” to speak about the American artists who left their country to live in Europe. Hemingway explained the origin of the term in A Moveable Feast, a book of memoirs he published in December 1964.
In the picture above, we can see other two American personalities who lived in Europe for some time, the epitome of genius, beauty, luxury and trouble – Zelda and Francis Scott Fitzgerald. Their presence in the movie tinges everything with a dramatic and eccentric mood, a special carelessness that the other characters don’t have.
Beautiful bags, amazing locations, an incredible journey back to the past: Midnight in Paris gives you the chance to daydream, to experience something impossible to achieve but fascinating nonetheless. Do you agree with me?
 He made his debut as a director in 1966 with What’s Up, Tiger Lily?, but my course didn’t include it.