Owen Wilson is Gil, a scriptwriter in Paris with his girlfriend and her family (who are on a business trip) as he slowly realises how little he has in common with them. She is not interested in walking in the rain and much prefers to go shopping, the parents are rightwing reactionaries obsessed about money and the price of things. Then that midnight taxi turns up as Gil gets away for a late night walk ... and suddenly he is back in the 1920s to the Paris of the Jazz Age. We share his bemusement as he encounters the Fitzgeralds (thats Scott and Zelda), Cole Porter at the piano, the young Hemingway, and soon the salon of Gertrude Stein - a no-nonsense Kathy Bates; Adrian Brody is perfect too as Dali, and Gil also encounters surrealists Man Ray and Luis Bunuel (to whom he gives the idea for EXTERMINATING ANGEL!). Then too there is Adriana (Marion Cottilard) the muse to Picasso and other painters ... On his return visits Gertrude Stein agrees to look at his new manuscrpt and he begans to fall for Adriana but she is dissatisfied with the 1920s she is living in, so by another time warp they go back to the 1890s Belle Epoque and encounter who else but Toulouse Lautrec at the Moulin Rouge sketching all those can-can dancers! Meanwhile, back in the present, there is another girl in Paris Gil gets to know, whom we just know will be perfect for him .... good to see Woody back in Paris practically 50 (well 47) years after WHAT'S NEW PUSSYCAT where he was chasing Romy Schenider and those other girls (above)... and of course the French scenes in EVERYONE SAYS I LOVE YOU.
Woody Allen's latest then is beautifully written and a charming story that belongs in the top ten of his all-time greats - up there with "the early funny ones" and ANNIE HALL, MANHATTAN, INTERIORS, STARLIGHT MEMORIES, HANNAH & HER SISTERS, CRIMES & MISDEMEANORS. From the opening montage of lush picturesque Parisian scenes by day and night and in the rain, the film is a love letter to the city of light. Owen Wilson is for once perfectly cast as the young Woody type, Michael Sheen is ideal too as the ex-lover of Inez, Gil's girlfriend, whom it turns out she is still sleeping with (trust Hemingway to notice that...) and there is the nice scene at the art gallery where Gil puts the pompous pedant in his place; Carla Bruni turns up in the nothing role of the tourist guide, and it all ties up nicely together. The best laugh out loud moment is provided by the detective hired by Inez's father to see where Gil goes at night - boy does he he get into a time warp!