After seeing Midnight in Paris you’re going to feel a touch of magic has been transferred from the screen to your heart. I have no doubt that time travelers visited the young Woody Allen and planted the idea in his head to be the most prolific movie writer/director of the end of the 20th century.
Midnight in Paris stars Owen Wilson, and as in many Woody Allen films Wilson is channeling the wit and wisdom of Allen. Wilson plays a self-admitted Hollywood hack on vacation in Paris with his uptight fiancée (Rachel McAdams) and her redneck parents. Wilson wants to write a serious novel and finds the city a sort of muse. At midnight his solitary walks reveal another world – that of Paris of the 1920s.
As if by magic Wilson finds himself partying with the likes of Cole Porter, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Salvador Dali, Luis Buñuel, Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein. There’s more creativity bubbling around Wilson that if he were sitting at the Algonquin round table in a different decade. One character Wilson meets from the past, Picasso’s mistress played with curiosity by Marion Cotillard, also manipulates space and time and the pair find themselves in Paris in the 1890s.
Allen is obviously saying that we belong in our own time. “They don’t have antibiotics,” claims Wilson about La Belle Epoque. Midnight in Paris leans more on the side of fantasy than sci-fi; this is territory mined by Somewhere in Time, although Allen’s ending is definitely more pragmatic and involves Lea Sedoux (who after Cotillard needs to be in more American films).
That thing with the Eiffel Tower, where the edifice lights flicker on and off rapidly really looks good on film. The Eiffel does that on the hour during certain evening time envelopes; saw the shot in Femme Fatale too.
— Michael Bergeron