If you haven’t seen it and don’t want too much information about the plot, stop now and go the movies! If you have seen it, or don’t mind some additional information, read on.
Gil is a successful but dissatisfied screenwriter with an unpublished novel. Naturally, he disdains his paying job and wants recognition as a novelist (you know, the kind that haunted Paris in the ’20s- Hemingway, Fitzgerald, fellows like that). His fiancé, a little philistine, doesn’t get it. Nor do her parents, who are hysterically clueless and crass. Poor Gil. Surrounded by pompous buffoons, he longs to escape.
Through a neat little plot device, Gil is transported back to the era he longs most for – Paris in the 20s. Gertrude Stein reads his manuscript, Hemingway and Fitzgerald give him literary advice, Zelda and Picasso add color and Dali offers some romantic advice. Everybody who was anybody was there and they all seem to bump into Gil (Cole Porter played piano in the background).
More importantly, Gil meets a girl – and what a girl. Adriana, played by the ultra-chic Marion Cotillard, is an artist’s model, muse and lover of Picasso, Modigliani and Braque. She and Gil strike up a friendship, both recognizing in one another that longing for something out of reach. While Gil is happily transported back to the era of his dreams he finds the courage to declare his love for Adriana. But, just as Gil is dissatisfied with his present, so Adriana is with hers. Her dream era is the Belle Époque of Paris and, magically, they are whisked away in a horse-drawn landau to the era of Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas and Gauguin. There, Adriana is happy and Gil must bid her adieu.
Through his time travels, Gil is able to speak is mind, find his heart and maybe some romance in the present. After all, while the past may look rosy, the “now” is all we have.
That Woody is really an old romantic at heart. There are some typical Woody-laugh-out-loud moments, but overall the film shimmers with the romance that is Paris, dreams, and young love. See it, love it, and open your heart to imagination and whimsy. Woody hit a homerun with this one.