94 minutes| Spain-U.S.A.| 2011| Colour| D-Cinema

A huge hit, Woody Allen’s latest is also his most purely enjoyable movie in 15 years. It’s a love letter to the City of Light, a whimsical time-travelling romance and a mildly cautionary tale about rooting your dreams in the past. Blonde Californian Owen Wilson proves an unexpectedly delightful Woody alter-ego as the neurotic Hollywood screenwriter struggling with his first novel who visits the French capital with his shrewish fiancée. Inspiration strikes on a midnight stroll, whisking the writer magically back to a time when the city sizzled with American expat talent. Soon he’s hobnobbing with Hemingway, the Fitzgeralds and Gertrude Stein (a marvellous Kathy Bates), while an alluring artist’s model (Marion Cotillard) sets his heart a-flutter. All this makes his present circumstances even more exasperating, but can he, or should he, long for escape? The cultural in-jokes are spot-on, including a vintage Buñuel gag, yet the playful humour is matched by bittersweet yearning and Paris looks so enticing you’ll sigh with pleasure. (Notes by Trevor Johnston).<

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