What could be more romantic than midnight in Paris, with its alluring, cosy cafes and softly shimmering waterways? Well, how about midnight in Paris in the 1920s? That’s the era earmarked as magnifique by wistful writer Gil (Luke Wilson) in this, Woody Allen’s latest in a long line of escapist romantic dramas.
See, Gil’s spent his whole life churning out soulless Hollywood scripts for which he’s been generously paid – except he feels withered and wasted by that hollow career trajectory. Gil wants to be a proper writer. That fire is stoked in him when he visits the city of love and starts redrafting his novel, while his vivacious but vacuous fiancée (Rachel McAdams) considers what to spend all his money on. Then one night, Gil finds himself transported back to the ‘20s thanks to a mysterious taxi ride that leads him to historical figures like Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll) and Zelda Fitzgerald (Alison Pill).
It’s all a bit Goodnight Sweetheart, especially when Gil falls for Picasso muse Adriana (Marion Cotillard). The thing with Allen’s films is you often feel like you’ve seen it all before. And you more than likely have; the auteur has been spinning pithy yarns around the same likably eccentric characters and romantic dilemmas since Annie Hall back in 1977. Which means you’ll either embrace Midnight In Paris like an old friend, or dismiss it as another spritely but square outing from a director who’s too old to learn new tricks.
Whichever camp you fall in, it’s hard not to at least like Midnight In Paris. Beating a passionate drum for the arts while making interesting observations about the futility of dreaming about the good old days, it’s a soft focus, inoffensive novelty that even features an appealing little turn by first lady Carla Bruni. 3/5