Woody Allen's new comedy, Midnight in Paris, is a charming bit of romantic piffle. Not romance as in relationship, but the wistful, sentimental and fanciful thinking that plagues its protagonist, Gil (Owen Wilson). Gil is a successful Hollywood hack, but he suffers from "Golden Age thinking" and longs to be a real writer, working in a better time.
He's visiting Paris with his unsentimental fiancée (Rachel McAdams) and -- as luck would have it -- a wormhole in the shape of a vintage Peugeot transports him each night back to the 1920s. Soon, he's drinking with the Fitzgeralds and Hemingway; showing his novel to Gertrude Stein; and falling for one of Picasso's lovers (Marion Cotillard). Plenty of in-jokes here for those who know their Paris salon history.
The shaggy, effervescent Midnight is an unabashed valentine to Paris, if only its most attractive parts. Like many of Allen's films, it concerns a rarefied world of amusing intellectuals, artists, bon vivants and pre-war interiors that must be perpetually defended from boors and bores.
Yes, Midnight is a sentimental fantasia about romanticizing the past. But it's upfront and openly self-referential about its artifice and self-indulgence, so it's hard not to fall under its bubbly spell.