Who's In It: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen, Marion Cotillard, Adrien Brody, Kathy Bates, Lea Seydoux, Carla Bruni, Corey Stoll, Tom Hiddleston, Allison Pill
The Basics: Gil is one of many vacationing writers wandering around Paris, wishing he was in an era that appreciated him. It doesn't help that his fiancee Inez (McAdams) and her family are all stuffy, obnoxious bores, either. Her friends are insufferable and their lives are predictable and stale. One night he is stumbling drunkenly along a Parisian street and hears the clock strike midnight. Suddenly, a 1920's car comes around the corner and the passengers invite him in. Soon he discovers that he has stepped inside a time machine, and his companions are all famous artists from that time period, such as F.Scott Fitzgerald (Hiddleston), Ernest Hemingway (Stoll), and Gertrude Stein (Bates). He meets Adriana (Cotillard), a gorgeous woman whose mysterious and irresistible ways draw him in. Everything in the '20s seems to be the opposite of his life in modern day, and Gil wrestles with his experiences in the two worlds--in a very Woody Allen way, of course.
What's The Deal: There's no arguing that Woody Allen is a prolific filmmaker with a distinct voice. The only problem is that after 40 years, it's only natural that one seems to run out of things to say. He has always been hit or miss, but his misses have become more depressing in the past 15 years. This movie, however, is Allen at his best, and is definitely among his top 5 films of all time. I love Woody Allen wandering around New York excruciatingly confused at Diane Keaton's facial cleanser, but my favorite Allen is one with a gimmick. Any time he plops his persona into the middle of a high-concept setting the result has been delightful (think Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex,Purple Rose of Cairo, or Deconstructing Harry).
This Premise Never Gets Old: Much to the script and actor's credit, consistently seeing new icons appear onscreen never lost its magic, resulting in a film that was filled to the brim with the excitement of discovery. This movie brought out the best in Owen Wilson, and you're reminded why he's a star in the first place. He serves as a charming, more accessible version of Woody Allen and his childlike wonder at the craziness around him surrounded me like a Snuggie of Delight. Believe it or not, his performance in this movie is subtle--his discontent and his happiness were both perfectly believable.
And While I'm At It: I want to shake each and every one of these actor's hands. Their interpretations of the geniuses behind all of these timeless pieces of art is breathtaking. Corey Stoll is mesmerizing as Ernest Hemingway, making me (sort of) convinced he is real, so if I ever see him we can share a glass of wine and talk about Old Man and the Sea. Much to my surprise, Tom Hiddleston got me back on his side as F. Scott Fitzgerald, making me forget all about his role as Loki, the pouty-faced horny-helmet guy in Thor. And the list goes on--everyone in this film succeeded in making me want to be in Owen Wilson's place, so I could be a part of this impossible joy.
But There's A Lesson To Be Learned: The movie does have a message--not an annoying, heavy-handed one, but a message nonetheless. It is perfectly constructed to draw out one's wistful "what ifs" of their own lives and give them some perspective on them. But when Marion Cotillard and Owen Wilson are teaching me lessons, it makes it so much sexier than when I hear it from normal people. So, message received.