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May 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Unlike his contribution to last year’s Cannes Film Festival, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris received a mostly enthusiastic reception from the press when it was screened this morning (Wednesday) in advance of tonight’s official premiere. It could not have been more appropriately tailored for the French festival — a film in which the character played by Owen Wilson travels back in time to the Paris of Hemingway, Dali, Bunuel, and Gertrude Stein. A film in which the French First Lady, Carla Bruni, appears in a cameo role. A film in which the star is Paris itself. And, judging from the laughter at the screening, reporters clearly enjoyed the goings-on, with several reporting that it was Allen’s best work in a decade or more. (He makes a film about once a year.) “Witty and magical,” Dave Karger called it on Entertainment Weekly’s website, predicting that it will propel Allen back to the Oscars podium. “A lush, glowing love letter to the City of Light,” commented the London Evening Standard. Even Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune, who has scorned most of Allen’s recent work, allowed himself to be at least lukewarm about this one, writing, “The film is good. Not a radical change in direction or form. But good.” And Peter Debruge in Daily Variety also parceled out praise sparingly, writing: “Midnight in Paris is so baldly smitten with its rain-slicked environs you half expect to see Paris’ tourism office listed among its backers. Yet and still, there’s an undeniably populist appeal, light as meringue and twice as sweet, in the pic’s arm’s-reach sophistication.” At a news conference following the screening Allen praised his cast members, who include Rachel Adams, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, and Michael Sheen. Turning to Wilson, he suggested that he turned out to be as far removed as imaginable from the character that he himself once played in his movies. “He’s the opposite of me,” Allen said. “I’m very nervous and New York. He’s very West Coast, very blond, very ‘on the beach,’ very athletic. He speaks nothing like me. … He brought a dimension that was very different from what I imagined when I wrote it.” Reuters concluded that Allen’s film got this year’s festival off to a good start.