Gil (Owen Wilson) and Inez (Rachel McAdams) are engaged to be married and on vacation with Inez's parents in Paris. Though they are supposed to be in love, it's easily surmised that the two are disconnected on every level. Gil works as a Hollywood screenwriter, but longs for more meaningful passion in his work and his life. Inez is a self-centered, stuck up rich girl who doesn't share Gil's lust for a maningful life. Gil is a lyrical soul who has fallen in love with Paris; he has a dream of writing a novel. Inez is in love with shopping in Paris, and dreams of living in a Hollywood mansion back home.
Gil feels that he would be happier living in another time, preferably the 1920s when Paris was alive with literary geniuses such as Hemmingway and Fitzgerald; he also wants to become a great novelist like they were.
One night Gil decides to walk back to his hotel after dinner. he becomes lost in the streets of Paris, and while sitting on the steps of a church, a vintage Peugeot pulls up in front of him right at the stroke of midnight. He climbs inside the car and is transformed back to the 1920s. He first meets Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, then Ernest Hemmingway, and Gertrude Stein, among other literary giants of that era. Gil can't believe that he is hob-nobbing with the writers whom he's always admired. Moreover, Gil can't believe that these same people are giving him ideas and critiquing the novel that he's been working on. Gil eventually meets a woman named Adriana (Marion Cotillard) and falls in love. Together, Gil and Adriana travel even further back in time, to 1890 Paris where they meet iconic artists of that time. Gil soon discovers every person has an illusion that living in another time would make them happier, no matter what era they are living in. Gil then realizes that perhaps happiness in present day is staring him right in the face.
Whether it's real or not does not matter. The idea of being able to travel back in time to visit one's heroes could work into any genre of film, or anyone's dream for that matter. But Allen's witty, nerotic humor makes this film that much more enjoyable....even if it is a "romatic comedy."