The movie that you don’t really want to like, but can’t really help it. From someone who doesn’t even like Paris that much, the constant reminders about the beauty of Paris are too burdensome to agree with, and too elegant to disagree with.
But personal prejudices not withstanding, for someone to go back in time, and meet the likes of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso, Hemingway, Dali, Eliot, Gertrude Stein, Degas, and Manet is fantastic. Literally.
Some excellent quotes:
“I never heard of Valium, what is it?”. “I guess you can call it the pill of the future.”
We both like Indian food. I mean not all Indian food. We both like Pita bread, I guess nan is what you call it now.
That’s very French. You guys are very much more evolved in that department. (On loving the wife and mistress at the same time.)
The theme of the movie, is of course, as old as time itself. Fantasies about the 18th century were written in the 19th, and about the 19th in the 20th. There is no starting point about the fantasies and there is no ending point. Be it a subtle fantasy like the Steppenwolf or in your face fantasies like the Metamorphoses or modern day classics like the Groundhog Day or Back to the Future, the fantastic idea is the one that of imagining for the sake of imagining, and thus slowly peeling away all the layers of the redundancies and be left with what is the core, the true self.
Some more excellent quotes:
That Paris exists and anyone chooses to live anywhere else is a mystery to me.
Pablo is the greater artist, but Matisse is the greater painter.”
I met and fell in love with an American writer by the name of Jill Pender. He brought me earings and we made love.”
This is the time we live in. Everything moves so fast and life is noisy and complicated.”
– Adriana, in 1920
In fantasy as in reality, the past lives in the future and the future lives in the past. And the present? Well, that is all over the place. We continue to look into the past, and also the future to decide the course of action in our present, even if a Hemingway crystal ball is not always available to tell us about obvious things that we may be missing.
If it reminds you of Groundhog Day when Gil gives Adriana a pair of earrings, you should remind yourself that “fantasy” is not just a genre, when it comes to art. As Adriana finds her way back to the Belle Epoque, the golden age of Paris, the realization that is building up slowly hits us all that no generation is great until the next generation can come and analyze it and elevate it to the highest pedestal possible. It takes a while for all the interpretations of Mona Lisa can be drawn out that make Mona Lisa what it is. Da Vinci couldn’t have done it all by himself. He needed the help of future generations to view ML from all different angles and define in the universe what it really stands for.
Perhaps in the future, we will look back at some artists today like Spielberg or Tom Hanks or Zubin Mehta, and elevate them to some new statuses. As Adriana puts it, “Present is a little unsatisfying, because life is a little unsatisfying.”
The movie has amazing soundtrack, which despite the monotony of the genre doesn’t get tiring, due to the variety within the genre.
Thankfully, the movie ends with no further clarification of the message. Gil walks away into the rain (when Paris is at it’s prettiest) with Gabrielle. Are they walking away into the future? Or, are they walking away into the present?