Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Woody Allen hasn't quite made the same films as he used to do, such as Annie Hall or Manhattan. Recently he seems to be going around Europe making films that are picturesque though forgettable, such as Vicky Cristina Barcelona. But Midnight in Paris is an enjoyable little light romp, and a fun little addition to the director's repertoire.
Filmed in the City of Lights and as gorgeous as a tourist board promotional video, the film finds dissatisfied Americans Gil (Owen Wilson) and Inez (Rachel McAdams) slumming in Paris. Gil, a successful scriptwriter, is working on a novel, while having a hard time with fiancée’s Inez’s Republican parents. After a late night solo stroll, Gil ends up in the 1920s.
He winds up in a bar listening to Cole Porter while hobnobbing with F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston), Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), Pablo Picasso (Marcial Di Fonzo Bo) and Getrude Stein (Kathy Bates). There's also the beautiful Adriana (Maria Cotillard), Piccasso’s squeeze. Gil falls for her, probably thinking marriage vows don't count for much when you're time travelling.
Convinced he didn't walk into some pre-WWII cosplay event, Gil returns to 20s Paris, taking in the sights and meeting even more celebrities. Some are just throwaway scenes, such as an encounter with the rhinoceros-obsessed Dali and Bruegel,
Meanwhile, the relationship between Gil and Adrianna starts to boil, even as Gil's wife appears to enjoy sneaking off with an old classmate. Also there's the gorgeous French First Lady Carla Bruni, who has a not-quite-minor role as a museum guide.
Literary and art fans will enjoy the non stop carousel of Parisian celebrities that flow in and out of the scene, delivering little nuggets of advice to the confused but disbelieving Gil.
Wilson maintains his star-struck nature throughout the film, while being blase about his wife's obvious affair. Cotillard is luminous in her role as the muse Adrianna, while Stoll probably has the most fun in the movie, playing the terse, straight-to-the-point Hemingway.
With some a large cast of characters hamming it up, Midnight in Paris comes across as light-hearted fun that's not trying to take itself too seriously. Allen develops a nice little rhythm with this film, and the editing is perfect as he switches from modern-day to old Paris.
There's the usual Woody Allen trademark one-liners in this study about nostalgia and Paris. Allen celebrates the city and its artistic history, and while the film is as light as a croissant, Midnight in Paris is like a stroll through the city, possessing some of the magic as it unashamedly raids the city’s artistic past, with plenty of discoveries around every corner.