In this fanciful fable, writer/director Woody Allen ruminates on nostalgia: a bittersweet longing for idealized things, persons or situations of the past.

Successful-but-dissatisfied Hollywood screenwriter Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) is in Paris, diligently working on his first novel, yet insecure about his serious literary ability. His protagonist runs a memorabilia shop and, like Gil, wistfully yearns to have lived back in the 1920s, the unabashedly romantic era reflected in Cole Porter's music. One night, as Gil is walking back to the hotel by himself after dinner in a restaurant with his shrill fiancee (Rachel McAdams) and her bourgeois parents (Mimi Kennedy, Kurt Fuller), an extraordinary thing happens. As the clock strikes midnight, a vintage yellow Peugeot pulls up and a festive young couple beckons him inside. To his amazement, it's Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, drinking Dom Perignon and inviting him to join them at a party. Thanks to magical realism, it turns out to be the most amazing evening of Gil's life, as he hobnobs with the cultural and artistic giants of the Lost Generation, along with a lovely damsel (Marion Cotillard) who, in turn, yearns for the Belle Epoque. Eager to repeat the incredible experience, Gil returns to the same street at midnight, night after night. To tell you whom he meets, what they say to him and what happens would ruin the surprise.

Charming, shaggy Owen Wilson epitomizes Woody Allen's idealistic and self-absorbed sensibilities. The illusion-versus-reality concept evokes memories of "Purple Rose of Cairo," in which a mousy housewife (Mia Farrow) flees from the brutality of real life into the imaginary world of movies, along with the Americans-abroad ambiance of "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." The acting ensemble is superb, particularly Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein, Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway and Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali. In a cameo, French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is a Rodin Museum tour guide.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Midnight in Paris" is an amusing, whimsical, time-traveling 10, an inventive cinematic celebration of the iconic City of Lights.

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