Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson, Carla Bruni, Marion Cotillard, Mimi Kennedy, Alison Pill, Rachel McAdams, Tom Hiddleston, Audrey Fleurot, Sonia Rolland, Léa Seydoux, and Nina Arianda in Midnight in Paris (2011)


(director: Woody Allen; cinematographer: Darius Khondji; editor: Alisa Lepselter;cast: Kathy Bates (Gertrude Stein), Adrien Brody (Salvador), Carla Bruni (Museum Guide), Marion Cotillard (Adriana), Rachel McAdams (Inez), Michael Sheen (Paul), Nina Arianda(Carol), Owen Wilson (Gil), Tom Hiddleston (Mr. Fitzgerald), Alison Pill (Ms. Zelda Fitzgerald), Marcial Di Fonzo Bo (Picasso), Corey Stoll (Ernest Hemingway), Kurt Fuller (John), Mimi Kennedy (Helen), Léa Seydoux (Gabrielle), Yves Heck (Cole Porter), Tom Cordier (Man Ray), Adrien de Van (Luis Buñuel), Gad Elmaleh(Detective Duluc), (Detective Tisserant); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Letty Aronson/Stephen Tenenbaum/Jaume Roures; Sony Pictures Classics; 2011)
A trifle filled with nostalgia and fantasy touristy fare.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A trifle filled with nostalgia and fantasy touristy fare, as directed and written by Woody Allen (“Annie Hall”/ Zelig”/”The Purple Rose Of Cairo“). Woody turns his lightweight time-travel story into a corny romance. It’s best perceived as a valentine to both modern Paris and the Lost Generation of American artist exiles living there in the 1920s.

Gil Penders (Owen Wilson), Woody Allen’s alter ego, is a nebbishy hack Hollywood screenwriter, who is an aspiring writer of aserious book set in a nostalgia shop called Out of the Past. His attractive rich-girl fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams), shuns her boyfriend’s artistic ambitions and dream to live in Paris for an expected comfy materialistic life in Malibu. The couple free-load a vacation to Paris with her right-wing Republican parents, Helen and businessman father John (Mimi Kennedy & Kurt Fuller). The entitled Inez slings catty insults at Gil on a regular basis, as if he were non-existent. Gil’s last straw is when Inez’s unctuous California friends, the know-it-all pedantic academic Paul (Michael Sheen), a pseudo intellectual, and his obnoxious wife Carol (Nina Arianda), accidentally run into Inez at a restaurant and insist the couple tour Paris with them and drag them nightclubbing and during the day to the Musée Rodin (where France’s First Lady, Carla Bruni is the tour guide).

A tipsy Gil, after attending a wine-tasting event, decides to take a walk around Paris at midnight, just to get away from the annoying couple. On the walk, a vintage Peugot picks him up with party-goers in 1920’s garb and transports him back to the past where he’s soon rubbing shoulders with F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston) and Zelda (Alison Pill) and Cole Porter (Yves Heck). The Fitzgeralds take Gil under their wings and he meets on his many nightly visits to the magical past a cocky Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), the well-meaning respected art and literary critic Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), a lovelorn Picasso (Marcial Di Fonzo Bo), a flamboyant Dali (Adrian Brody), a confident Man Ray (Tom Cordier), a puzzled Luis Buñuel (Adrien de Van) and many other recognizable artists of that period. Gil dearly wishes he lived in this artistic period.

While having his novel critiqued by Gertrude Stein in her apartment, Gil meets Adriana (Marion Cotillard), a fashion designer and model for Picasso who’d rather be living in the belle epoque with Toulouse-Lautrec than being Picasso’s mistress. Gil futilely attempts to romance the bored beauty, but soon realizes that’s not possible.

Only when Gil meets the lovely music store clerk, Gabrielle (Léa Seydoux), does it become clear to him that he belongs in the modern era and the film ends with a modestly rosy romantic outlook.

The lesson learned here is not to pine for another generation’s glory and to hook up with a mate who likes what you do, especially if it’s walking in the rain in Paris. Too bad all this fantasy stuff wasn’t that funny. It’s a lesser Allen film that seems innocuous, charming enough, somewhat entertaining, beautifully but safely photographed by Darius Khondjias post-card artand, most of all, forgettable.