A frustrated Hollywood screenwriter (Owen Wilson), with a less than supportive girlfriend (Rachel McAdams), goes on vacation to Paris with her parents. While there he wonders what it was like during the golden age of the 1920s during the expatriate movement. He decides to walk back to the hotel alone from a dinner party after a day of constant put-downs from his girlfriend, her parents, and some old friends they accidentally meet. Feeling totally depressed and once again lost, he sits down on some steps to try to figure out where he is. A car of partiers comes by and they ask him to join them.
They arrive at a private party and the first person he sees is someone at the piano looking and sounding strangely like Cole Porter. Then a perky young woman comes over and introduces herself as Zelda and her husband Scott—Fitzgerald. He also meets Ernest Hemingway and asks him to read and critique his first attempt at a novel. Hemingway’s reaction is “no” and says he knows he won’t like it because if it is good he will be jealous and won’t like it; and, if it is bad he won’t like it. However, he offers to take it to his friend, Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), to review. This is as far as I’m going with the plot but throughout the movie various artists and writers appear such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, T.S. Eliot, Henri Matisse, Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin, Degas, and many others.
This movie is superbly written and directed by Woody Allen. It is not a movie for everyone but it is refreshing to see one that is intelligently written and executed. It has many of Allen’s trademark traits such as quick patter, contemplation of life and death and life’s purpose, and a bewildered main character—all backed by a jazz soundtrack. Owen Wilson plays Gil, the main character, and fits right in with the typical Woody Allen central character who is always confused and lacking self-confidence. It is interesting to note that he somehow manages to fit his southern drawl into Allen’s quick and cryptic dialogue.
If you are tired of the one-size-fits-all type of bland movie, this is the one to see. It is the type of movie you would expect to see at the art movie houses but, gladly, it is in wide release and you can probably see it at your local neighborhood theatre. For those who prefer the art movie house atmosphere, it can also be seen at the Drexel here in Columbus or your local art theatre.
To give this movie anything less than an A would be a sin.