Ah, midnight in Paris!
Or anytime in Paris if you ask me—a place where I once had a magical time, until the Orient Express whisked me away, like a magic carpet, to Istanbul.
Woody Allen’s new film is like this, although the spiriting away is by time travel—in a pumpkin-coach, sort of fairytale way.
The film centers on a young Hollywood screenwriter (Owen Wilson) who visits Paris in hopes of recapturing its romance of the twenties and completing the novel that will rescue him from a career of hack writing. His intended bride (Rachel McAdams) and her cynical parents just hope he will settle for a mess of pottage.
But he takes a nighttime stroll and—while lost and sitting on some steps—hears a clock striking twelve. A twenties roadster speeds up and young revelers invite him on the first of a series of visits to what proves to be the era of his dreams. He’s astonished to meet the likes of Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein (who agrees to critique his manuscript), Picasso, Dali, and others.
The premise is clever and, despite being a fantasy, the film has existential weight. The soirees are alone worth the price of admission, although the twenties elite are more caricatures than characters. The ending is just the one you and I would write.
Rating: Three wooden nickels (out of four).