Gil is a successful screenwriter, who is attempting to finish his first novel, and he is in Paris with his wife (Rachel McAdams). She dismisses his work on a nostalgia shop because she feels it is not as worthwhile as his screenwriting career. Gil is infatuated with everything about Paris, while his wife is content with fine dining and shopping with her parents and wine tasting with stuffy friends.
Then one evening Gil wanders the streets of Paris, and at Midnight a 1920s style car pulls up and he is invited in. Over the course of the evening, he meets the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Fitzgerald, and even Ernest Hemingway, who agrees to read his manuscript. The following night he brings his wife but she leaves and he is picked up once again at midnight. This time he talks with Hemingway, meets Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, and the beautiful Adriana (Mario Cotillard). Gil continues to return at night much to his wife’s annoyance and his father-in-law’s disapproval. He meets legendary surrealists such as Salvador Dali, Man Ray, and Luis Bunuel, who he inspires with his conversation.
He finds Adriana’s diary in the present and meets a fellow aficionado (Lea Seydoux) of the olden days. Gil returns to the 1920s and Adriana convinces him to go back to the 1890s where they meet Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin, and Degas. This is where Adriana is happy and despite their love, Gil realizes that even though nostalgia is good it is best to live in the present. Gil gets some final feedback on his manuscript and then breaks up with Inez, realizing it was not meant to be. However, Gil finally does find someone who shares his love of Paris in the rain.
Allen made this film really enjoyable for me because he brought to life many people such as Hemingway, Dali, Bunuel, and others. This type of history fascinates me much like Gil, and it was fun to see these figures represented in the flesh by the likes of Tom Hiddleston, Kathy Bates, and Adrien Brody. That being said, this film carries a good lesson about living your life in the present. I would have initially said that Owen Wilson seemed wrong for this film, but I think he did a wonderful portraying Gil as a man mesmerized by the golden days of Paris.