Woody's Allen new film "Midnight in Paris" has the same bohemian sensibility and a gorgeous golden sheen that made the brilliant "Vicky, Christina, Barcelona" so charming. People are beautiful, cities are lit, mood is mellow and there is a sense of liberation, a sense of gay abandon, a sense of poetry. What began with the excellent "Match Point" is a sharp left turn in Woody Allen's filmography where all movies are based outside New York and what New York has lost, in a way, has more than been gained by stories that have a completely different texture to them. Allen's neurosis that seemed commonplace in his New York films has mostly been replaced with a gentler wit. A sense of despair that surrounded his even most funny movies has been replaced with a sense of important lightness.
"Midnight in Paris" is the story of Gill, a Hollywood writer who has lost his sense of belonging to this world. Gill happens to travel to Paris with his very American fiancée and her even more American parents. Gill falls in love with Paris or at least with the idea of Paris: a city of great art and intellect that existed shortly between the wars in the 1920s or maybe for an era before that, the Belle Epoque, that existed just before the first war or maybe an era just before that. The 'or' between those images is basically what the film is about: As a rock music cliche goes, objects in the rearview mirror always seem to appear closer to the heart, and Mr. Allen's excellent film claims that nostalgia is by definition a form of denial and is applicable to every generation. However, I personally feel that nostalgia for something akin to a pre-internet age is an emotion that has perhaps never been felt before.
Gil lets Paris sink into his psyche. He sees the literary Paris of the 20s come alive, quite literally. He meets the greats from the 20s, Picasso, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Dali and others while fundamentally discovering in the enchantment the cause of his disenchantment.
Owen Wilson as yet another lost American in Europe does an excellent job and so does Rachel McAdams as the rather nasty fiancée. Marion Cotillard is once again the lost lover in the big city and is winsome in her wistful solitariness.
Packed with powerful figures, actors, dialogue and music, Midnight in Paris is certainly unforgettable. This is sure to go down as one of Allen's most remembered films.