At the start of “Midnight in Paris,” a documentary shot in Flint, Mich., in 2012, before the water crisis, a teenager in the film’s large ensemble notes that the city only attracts news media when something bad happens. The movie, directed by Roni Moore and James Blagden, offers a corrective, observing students at Flint Northern High School from a Monday to a Friday as they prepare for that evening’s big event: the prom. (“Midnight in Paris” is the theme of the dance.)
The first half of this brief feature deals with the lead-up to the dance, as the high schoolers discuss their dates, outfits and plans to make an entrance. Adults lay out rules (no drugs, alcohol or sex), some of which will be violated in the second half, which follows the students to the dance and beyond.
Moore and Blagden don’t generally provide formal introductions, relying on the students to present themselves. Maurquisha Lever, the eventual prom queen, emerges as a standout. The teenagers’ gossip can be very funny, as when one girl lays out the comically labyrinthine saga of finding her date.
But “Midnight in Paris” is narrowly conceived. It’s not the material: A prom can — and here does — raise issues related to economics, ambitions and education. (The school bars students it hasn’t cleared for graduation from entry.) But a week is too short a time frame. A longer view might have left a deeper impression.
Midnight in Paris
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 15 minutes. Watch through virtual cinemas.