In Midnight in Paris, Owen Wilson portrays a screenwriter visiting Paris with his fiance and her not-fully-approving parents. He regrets the decision he made several years earlier to leave Paris and abandon his dreams of being a novelist. Now, as his wedding looms, he is trying to finish that novel again, without success and without the support of his bride to be, Rachel McAdams.
This character is a writer who is able to write screenplays and make good money, but his heart is not in it. He is blocked from doing the writing he truly wants to do because he found a way to make a good living writing for films he doesn’t respect that much. His return to Paris is also a return to a long denied but very central aspect of himself.
Time travel is not a common therapy for writer’s block, but it works well in this movie. An unexpected automobile ride to the 1920’s allows Owen Wilson to connect with helpful mentors from the past, including Kathy Bates, who portrays Gertrude Stein. In a previous post, I wrote about Kathy Bates’ role in motivating James Caan to write in Misery, and in Midnight she does it again, but this time without using a sledgehammer.
This is a delightful film about a writer’s journey and I am not going to spoil it by telling the ending, except to say that he realigns himself with his heart’s desires, and ends up happier for it. A good lesson for struggling writers to consider.
Woody Allen is a prolific writer of screenplays, books, plays, short stories and jokes. His protagonists are frequently writers of some sort or another, and he previously wrote and produced a play entitled, “Writer’s Block.”
From watching his films I’m fairly certain that Woody has suffered from many anxiety-related syndromes, but considering his enormous literary output, it seems unlikely that he suffers from much writer’s block.