With a new Woody Allen movie it is similar to a new Quentin Tarantino movie: we know what to expect, he won`t reach the heights of his days past so if you are disappointed it is probably your own fault in expecting too much – as was the case for me with 2008`s Vicky, Christina, Barcelona which was one of the few films where we were actually considering leaving the cinema (not even Limits of Control got me this unnerved).
Thankfully Allen`s new outing is fairly enjoyable and a nice treat.
The storyline follows Owen Wilson in the role of a Hollywood-scribe desperately trying to write a quality story instead of the usual throwaway screenplays he churns out for the studios. Following the idea that Paris is a nice city (I never understood where the obsession with this city came from) he packs his shallow wife and while she is partying he finds out that the “magic” of Paris makes it possible for him to visit the old days of Paris every time the clock hits midnight.
What follows are meetings with his great idols from the past: Hemmingway (Corey Stoll, haven’t seen him before but he is terrific), F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom “Loki” Hiddleston) and many more including the most amazing cameo of Adrian Brody. After you have seen him, you will think about the beauty of a Rhinoceros…
The story is surprisingly focused compared to the aimless mess that was Vicky, Christina, Barcelona and has a beginning, a middle and an end. The dialog is great and one has to give credit to Allen’s writing: if he wants you to hate Michael Sheen’s character he can make you hate him easily.
The epiphany of the main character is a bit obvious and can be told in the first minutes of the movie, but seeing as Wilson’s character needs a wakeup call in the movie about many obvious things I think it fits with his character that he can’t see from the beginning what the entire audience already knows.
The acting is top notch seeing as you have heavyweights like Kathy Bates, charming stars like Marion Cotillard… and seeing as I watched this movie in south of France a cameo by Carla Bruni which was hyped in all the advertisements in France as if Bruni would be the third most important role after Wilson and Rachel McAdams.
Although I would have preferred Midnight in Montpellier this movie is a nice treat for an evening in the cinema, well acted, well written and it is good to see Owen Wilson showing that he is more than a guy who can look funny into the camera.