I should rewatch movies more, I had forgotten so many delightful things about this one. I remembered that it spoke directly to my English major turned ephemera obsessed aspiring archivist soul, but how could I forget that Kathy Bates played Gertrude Stein? Or how creepily wonderful Tom Cordier plays Man Ray?
OK so this is not a review so much as gush. But this movie makes me feel gushy, and I think it’s basically designed to. Although there’s a half-hearted “live in the now” speech delivered haltingly by Owen Wilson all the fun in this movie happens in the past, making it more an ode to intense nostalgia and “golden age thinking” than an antidote to it. I mean as hilarious as Michael Sheen is as the “pedantic one,” stealing Rachel McAdams away, 2010 cannot hold a candle to 1920 for excitement here. But that’s the fun of period movies, you get to visit an era you assume to be more interesting than yours, without having to give up your life and the conveniences of the modern world. Wilson’s Gil Pender just gets to actually walk around in a period piece, and then use what he learns there to pick up a delightful French girl. (Because it’s not a Woody Allen film if it doesn’t all somehow come back to that…)
I really liked Wilson as an Allen fill-in, I think something about his association with frat-boy comedy in my mind grounds the neurosis of his character. (His slight drawl doesn’t hurt either.) His charm isn’t as buried as some of Allen’s other surrogates, it’s not hard to see why Adriana (Marion Cotillard) is so taken with him.
The cameos are truly brilliant, everyone from Alison Pill as ‘all over the place’ Zelda Fitzgerald, and Tom Hiddleston as her hapless husband Scott. I’ve always had a little crush on Adrien Brody (well it’s big enough that I sat through Hollywoodland twice) and his take on Dali is wonderfully bizarre. But the star turn here is from Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemmingway, who as any member of book club can tell you, I hate. I find his prose tiring and his misogyny hard to overlook, but I adore Stoll’s loving parody of him. And he’s in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, which I’ve been meaning to see for a long time, so there’s the next link in the chain. (I did spot Gad Elmaleah by the way, he’s the detective that gets lost in time…he’s funny, though briefly visible.)
In this chain: