As a Woody Allen devotee, and a fan of Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams, you can imagine my disappointment when I missed this film at my local multiplex first time round.

Unfortunately many decent films  don’t seem to last long at your average cinema unless they are the latest Hollywood blockbuster. Can you imagine silent film The Artist even making it to the screen of one of the major chains if it hadn’t had such an awards buzz surrounding it?

But thankfully the awards and nominations are now flowing in for Allen’s effort, so hopefully this DVD release will garner the audience it deserves.

And, like The Artist, Midnight In Paris is a film seeped in nostalgia.  It questions whether we can become so immersed in the romanticism of the past that we fail to realise that many people throughout history, no matter what glories they live through, ache for a more enchanted time conjured by their imagination. Mankind is forever looking back when maybe they should be looking forward.

Gil (Wilson) is the protagonist of these theories, a loveable screenwriter who tags along with his fiancee, Inez,  and her parents on their business trip to Paris in the hope it will inspire him to write a novel that will stand alongside some of the classics. McAdams plays against type as a shrill harridan, obsessed by the pretensions of her friend’s husband, Paul, played superbly by Michael Sheen.  (After this performance, I may be able to forgive his unbearably hammy role in Tron)

After being forcibly dragged along by Inez to Versailles in order to be browbeaten by  insufferable know-it-all Paul, he sees his chance of escape when the group decides to go dancing. Gil makes his excuses and takes a stroll through the streets ofParisat its most bewitching.

What follows is a rather unlikely segue into Cinderella and Goodnight Sweetheart territory (for those of tender years, Goodnight Sweetheart was a fine drama where Nicholas Lyndhurst travels back in time to indulge in some nooky with a wartime sweetheart). In fact, could it be possible that the great Woody Allen was a fan of this BBC programme?  I like to think so.

At the stroke of midnight, a carriage pulls up and takes him on a trip into the Paris of the 20s, where improbably he meets with all the luminaries of the time, from F Scott Fitzgerald and a rather annoying Ernest Hemingway, who spews out bon mots like a gatling gun, to the great artists Picasso and Dali, as well as detouring via the 20s equivalent of a WAG, the tart with the heart artist groupie Adriana, played by Tinseltown’s  go-to Frenchie Marion Cotillard.

In order to enjoy this film, it is necessary to let your imagination run wild and take things with a heavy dusting of seasoning. This is not a film with any great depth, despite its premise, and is more a fairy tale for the ages, with two-dimensional characters and glorious scenery. Many times you wonder how Gil ever fell for the bitchy Inez, although McAdams, as ever, is luminous on screen and her character’s failings don’t detract from that.

That’s not to say this isn’t a great film, however. It does rate among some of the better Allen films. His dissection of human relationships is, as always, witty and entertaining. Plus he dips his toes back into science fiction territory (or science romance, as the genre was known in the 20s, a rather fitting description for an Allen film). Although filmed in technicolour,  the portrayal of Paris is as glorious as Allen’s ode toNew York,Manhattan. And you warm to the characters and care about what happens to them.

I’m not going to dissect whether this film is historically accurate, and whether all these people did hang out in a kind of dream Come Dine With Me, but it was certainly an interesting period and Allen does it justice.

Midnight In Paris is a film worth seeking out if you missed it the first time round, whether you’re an Allen fan or not. For, like The Artist, it is pure escapism from our less-than-enchanting times. I believe even ole Woody would have a hard time sugar-coating this era.

Special Features: None

Released on February 6

About The Author

Rhian is a freelance journalist and editor living in London. A film fan for as long as she can remember, her tastes cover the entire spectrum of cinema.