Wilson seemed perfect for the role, and the role was incredible. The other family members were not drawn well, but that’s fine because the story was not really about them except they gave him a reason to be there and a reason to walk around Paris late at night alone.
And on his first night out, while the clock is striking midnight, a yellow 1920 Peugeot Landaulet stops and the occupants entice him and he enters Paris of the 1920’s. (To me, this is a cooler time machine than a Delorean, but that is just my opinion.) This period was, to Gil, the high point of culture and creativity, the “Golden Age,” and once he starts to accept where he is, this otherworld surpasses his real world.
Name a creative master alive at that time and he encounters them: Hemmingway, Picasso, Fitzgerald, Dali, Cole Porter, and Gertrude Stein, just for starters.
But it is Picasso’s mistress, Adriana, who enraptures Gil. She is as bored with the 1920’s as Gil was with 2010, believing the Golden Age was the Belle Époque. (I agree with her.) Together, they are transported to that time and she. . .
The movie works and won Woody Allen an Oscar for screenwriting. Hemmingway’s dialogue has all the rhythms of his writing.
If you have been to Paris, it is a joy to see the places you have walked. If you have not, it shows you why you need to go. The city in three eras is more of a character than the fiancé and her parents. The movie is worth watching just for the visuals (it was nominated for Best Art Direction).
It is a light confection and not nearly as crazy as a lot of Allen’s movies. It is fun to watch and will leave you asking questions about nostalgia and “golden ages” and how your life is lived.