Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)

What's it about? Visiting Paris with his high-maintenance fiancée, writer Gil (Owen Wilson) muses about how great it must have been to live in the Golden Age of 1920s Paris, when artists from round the world flocked to the city. One night, whilst walking the streets alone, the clock strikes midnight and he is magically transported back to that very time. Seeking inspiration for his novel, he returns time and time again to the past, where he rubs shoulders with the likes of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Salvador Dalí, Luis Buñuel, Pablo Picasso, Cole Porter and a beautiful young lady called Adriana (Marion Cotillard). But how will these experiences affect his life in the present?

Is it any good? A delightful slice of whimsy, with a lovely central conceit which balances the fantasy and reality elements with easy assurance. It doesn't deliver many big belly-laughs, but it's amusing and charming throughout, with enjoyable performances and cameos. Corey Stoll's belligerent, death-obsessed Hemingway and Adrien Brody's rhinocerous-obsessed Dalí get the best lines, whilst in the modern-day timeline Michael Sheen is great as an eminently punchable, smug git. Wilson strikes just the right mix of bemusement, excitement and incredulity at Gil's situation and manages to avoid being too much like Woody Allen in a role that Allen would have played in the past. And the past is what lies at the heart of the film, as it gently asks what it is about human nature that makes us prone to wallowing in nostalgia. A sharper Allen would perhaps have explored this with more perceptive wit, but maybe he just wanted to tell a sweet little tale this time. Speaking of nostalgia, although it's his best film for over a decade, it's still not up there with the Golden Age of Woody. Ah, remember how great that was?

I don't trust you. What do others think? It is customary for critics to greet a new Woody Allen film with claims that it is a return to form. This time, however, it seems audiences agree with them as it is his most commercially successful film to date and the film has been nominated for Best Picture and Director at the 2012 Oscars. The people who'll be most impressed, though, will be the Parisien Tourist Board, because the City of Light looks utterly lovely. If I'm not mistaken......it'll make you want to go there and take romantic walks by the Seine.

What does the Fonz think? Ah nostalgia, it's just not as good as it used to be.

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