This is Woody Allen's love letter to Paris, and not only that, but it is also his absolute best film in quite a long time. Sure, I gave very high marks to Match Point, but this comes closer than that to being a full 5 masterpiece.
The story concerns a successful Hollywood screenwriter named Gil and his fiancee Inez on vacation in Paris with her parents. While there, Gil tries to work on a novel and do something more substantial with his life than just be a Hollywood hack. Through magical circumstances, he finds himself transported through a time slip at midnight to Paris during the 1920s, wherein he finds himself hanging out with his idols like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Pablo Picasso.
Inez, her friends, and her family all think he's nuts, but this just might be the best thing that's ever happened to Gil, and could very well be the spark he's been searching for to make his life complete.
This is utterly and completely Allen, charming, nostalgic, and fun. It's impossible to watch this and not feel moved, delighted, and overwhelmed with happiness. It's all laid on pretty thick, but it never comes off as sentimental or sickly sweet in a bad way. It's light and fun, and easy to fall in love with. Yeah, it's total wish fulfillment in a sense, but who cares? It's just an utter joy to experience.
It's got some typical Allen-isms, but the situation it presents is well done, creative, and fun. Allen's not known for having much visual flair or pizzaz with his work, but this film has some excellent cinematography and definitely applies as a visual work of art. The city looks excellent, and the 20s scenes really come alive thanks to his touch.
Owen WIlson does nice work as the happily perplexed Gil, doing the Woody role without coming off as a ripoff. Rachel McAdams is fine as Inez, but seems to get overshadowed. Then again, it's kinda is appropriate given the plot. The real stars though are the supporting players, namely Marion Cotillard as Picasso's mistress, Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein, and Allison Pill as Zelda Fitzgerald. The others are good, but sometimes come off as more caricature and phony. Though I do think Corey Stoll's Hemingway is pretty fantastic.
I really don't have a whole lot of negatives. Yes, I did mention how some of the performances stick out, but that's not a complete deal breaker. The film had me guessing about how it would end, and I was partially right, but that also isn't a complete detriment to things. I think my biggest gripe is that the film had to end.
Give this one a shot. It helps if you're already a Woody fan, as that makes it easier to get into, but you don't have to be a fan to fall in love.