Midnight in Paris
Time Out says
Woody's got his groove back. Judging by last year's acidic black comedy You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger and this affectionate valentine to the City of Light, the movie-a-year-whether-you-want-it-or-not auteur has hit a vibrant creative stride. We can only hope it continues (please, W.A., no more Scoops). But for now let's bask in the glories: Things seem just right from Paris's melancholy prelude, a sublimely photographed, edited and scored succession of images (tourist trap and otherwise) of the fantastical French capital. From there we meet Hollywood-screenwriter-cum-budding-novelist Gil (Wilson), who's come to the city with his fiance, Inez (McAdams), for a fateful visit.
Gil is utterly beguiled by Paris's hidden wonders and its palpable sense of history. As he's quick to admit, he's a nostalgist who feels like he was born in the wrong time (Gil, c'est moi, Monsieur Allen?). So imagine his delight when the clock tolls midnight one clear evening, an old Peugeot rolls up, and he's transported from Paris 2010 to Paris 1920. Soon he's rubbing elbows with Ernest Hemingway, having his novel critiqued by Gertrude Stein and falling for Adriana (Cotillard), a fashion designer who'd rather be hanging in the belle epoque with Toulouse-Lautrec than playing mistress, several decades hence, to Pablo Picasso. From this clever, potentially one-note setup, Allen creates a continuously amusing fantasia---best is when Gil plants the seed in Luis Buuel's head for The Exterminating Angel---that is also wise about the damaging ways people reject the present to embrace a golden-hued past that never existed. A few missteps aside (McAdams's rich bitch is too much of a shrill caricature; Cotillard's final scene is awkwardly handled), this is prime Woody Allen---insightful, philosophical and very funny.
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