Do you know someone -- or perhaps you are someone -- who seems out of step with the current time because he or she deeply romanticizes another era in which they never lived? In Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris," Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) is that person, and the era he loves is Paris in the 1920s.
"Midnight in Paris" opens with some gorgeous shots of the City of Light where Gil is vacationing with his fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams), and her right-wing parents. Gil is a successful Hollywood screenwriter who dreams of finishing his first novel -- about a nostalgia-shop owner -- in Paris, where many of his literary heroes worked and played.
Inez constantly belittles Gil and babbles about wanting a house in Malibu when she's not running off with her pretentious friends. You can't imagine why the gentle-natured Gil would be engaged to this vapid (pardon our French) bitch with overbearing parents, which is why Gil is often left on his vacation wandering the streets of Paris alone.
At midnight, after getting lost on a side street, Gil is approached by a bunch of boisterous partygoers wearing vintage clothing and being driven around in an antique car. Gil joins them and arrives at a party where he meets Zelda (Alison Pill) and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston), who introduce Gil to Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll). Gil can't believe that he has somehow time-traveled to his dream era, and seizes the opportunity by asking Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates) to critique his novel. As soon as he leaves the bar, it is 2010 again, but Gil returns to the same side street at midnight the next night and waits to be whisked back to the roaring '20s.
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While he is sharing cocktails and stories with Picasso (Marcial Di Fonzi), Salvador Dali (Adrien Brody) and Luis Buñuel (Adrien de Van), Gil develops a strong attraction to Picasso's mistress, Adriana (Marion Cotillard). Adriana represents everything that he wishes he could find in Inez back in 2010, but he is surprised that Adriana doesn't share his affinity for the '20s and wishes she were living during the Renaissance. Gil returns to the present with a new sense of appreciation for living in the moment and a desire to find a kindred soul to walk with along the Seine and enjoy the beautiful city in the rain.
"Midnight in Paris" is Allen's most financially successful film, and one that all hopeless and hopeful romantics will want to spend the night with. The fantastical premise isn't remotely plausible even if time travel were possible, but that, of course, isn't the point. All the signature Allen trademarks are here, including neurotic characters yammering and talking over each other, and a lead character with a good heart who suffers fools with unjustified grace. Wilson is lovable as the wide-eyed idealist, McAdams expertly channels her caustic "Mean Girls' character all grown up, and the supporting cast -- especially the alluring Cotillard and the always game Bates -- are a delight to watch as they bring these classic artists to life.
Although "Midnight in Paris" is as fluffy as a croissant, rom-com lovers will eat up this lighthearted romp and root for Wilson to follow his dreams and end up with a woman more deserving of his sweet nature. Bon appétit, Woody Allen connoisseurs; this is his most enjoyable movie in years.
Extras! Good luck finding much in the way of bonus features for any Woody Allen movie. For whatever reason, the director's discs are usually bare-bones affairs. However, say "merci," because both the DVD and Blu-ray for "Midnight in Paris" do include the short featurette "Midnight in Cannes," which contains interviews with Allen and the cast filmed at the Cannes Film Festival.