There’s an irony in the fact that, while Woody Allen’s latest movie explicitly rejects nostalgia, it’s also his comfiest throwback in years. Midnight in Paris feels exactly like the kind of modest picture Allen might have made back in the 1980s — a gently played, loosely extended lark that culminates in a prescription for life well lived.
These days, seeing the new Woody Allen film is a little like spending some time with an old lover. Things just haven’t worked out. Those once-charming quirks and peccadillos have grown into irritating mannerisms, and while you can’t put your finger on what’s missing, it just seems like the magic is gone. You get the feeling that the two of you have nothing left in common. But when your ex makes unexpected overtures toward seduction (say, by announcing that his new film will be a musical comedy) you’re intrigued. Stumbling toward your rendezvous, you’re shot through with anticipation as well as the fear that you’ll only be let down once again — how do you get yourself into these things, anyway?