Nostalgia, they say, just isn’t what it used to be. But that corny gag about our most wistful of emotions, its allure and its dangers, is what’s at the heart of Woody Allen’s witty and wise 41st film. A successful but dissatisfied Hollywood screenwriter (a spot-on Owen Wilson) on a pre-honeymoon visit to Paris sees the city as a second shot at his youthful dream of becoming a novelist. His fiancée (Rachel McAdams) likes to shop. He longs for the days between the wars, when Paris was a hotbed of not-yet-famous creative geniuses. One night, while sitting alone in a deserted square, a vintage Peugeot sputters up and Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald invite him to a party. Each midnight thereafter, he finds himself rubbing shoulders with the likes of Hemmingway, Picasso, Dalí, Buñuel, Eliot, and Gertrude Stein a special nod to Kathy Bates. Allen wisely doesn’t bother explaining how this happens, or even if the guy’s just imagining it, because it really doesn’t matter. Those with a modicum of cultural literacy will enjoy this film the most. So is nostalgia what it used to be? No. It’s better. And funnier.
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