Woody Allen’s love letter to Paris opens the 2011 Cannes Film Festival tonight.
The film, Midnight to Paris, will also open in a few days or weeks in most of the rest of the world, part of the pattern in which the Cannes Film Festival acts as the high-visibility platform for global film distribution.
Midnight in Paris is a perfect film to open the Festival, with its iconic scenes of famous Paris landmarks.
Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams are the engaged couple who travel with their parents to Paris, where the magic of a former age – Paris in the 1920s and the Belle Epoque – engage Wilson, a Hollywood screenwriter trying his hand at being a novelist – captivate his imagination, if not his soul.
You either accept the premise that this is a rather dull and predictable film - featuring occasional in-jokes here and there, with the feel of a very stretched-out New Yorker short story - or you don’t. Personally, I didn’t.
The fantasy sequences are filled with famous personalities including F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Picasso, T.S. Eliot, Dali, Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas. But little of the young Woody Allen is on view here, only the audience’s nostalgia for his early talent.
The packed first press screening was followed by a press conference with Allen and his cast, which also includes Adrien Brody (in a single wonderfully nuanced turn as Salvador Dali), Carla Bruni (as a tour guide at the Rodin Museum), Michael Sheen, Kathy Bates and Marion Cotillard (as a serial partner of Modigliani, Braque, Picasso and Hemingway).
If this doesn’t make sense, just remember that this film is mostly a fantasy.