Midnight In Paris


Woody romanticises the City Of Lights.

Nostalgia is the last refuge of the Woody Allen fan. Whereas his ’70s/’80s highs seemed effortless, the last decade creaks with strain. A lack of creak rescues this frivolity, however: there’s more weight in garlic peel but modern Woody with a light touch is a welcome sight.

For once, Allen invokes his greats without scoring own goals. The opening Paris montage recalls Manhattan. Echoes of quasi-magical Allen fantasies (Zelig, The Purple Rose Of Cairo) reverberate as romantically troubled, creatively stifled, nostalgic writer Gil (Owen Wilson) is ferried by time-travelling cab to ’20s Paris to hang with Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Eliot...

These are cultural heavies but a breezy levity lifts MIP. Hemingway’s machismo (“You box?”) and Dali’s self-regard (“Da-leee!”) prove good for giggles. Allen has points to make about nostalgia being relative: every age eulogises earlier ages, so why not live for now?

Yet this comes leavened with gags, as Wilson’s charming Gil sees the past clearly and gasps, “These people don’t have any antibiotics.” Tougher to take are the underwritten women, running the gamut from saintly (Marion Cotillard) to shrewish (Rachel McAdams) to saintly (Lea Seydoux), and the climax is sappy.

Yet mostly, even the fantasy of a Paris where Carla Bruni works in a gallery is hard to begrudge in a baguette that recalls Allen’s golden age. You’ll pine on for an Allen commentary, mind. Plus ça change...

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