Woody Allen wows critics, just don't call him soppy

Thu Jun 9, 2011 2:39pm EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - "Life is noisy and complicated," so goes a line in the new romantic comedy, "Midnight in Paris," in classic, cynical Woody Allen banter.

But this isn't your usual comedy of errors from Allen. Critics are lauding his latest film as "pleasant," a "souffle," and in a compliment which may seem out of character to his longtime fans, "sweet natured."

So is the 75-year-old Allen, who often filled his old scripts with nervy tirades about everything from failed relationships and sex to mid-life crises, getting sentimental in his old age? Hardly, he says.

"No, it happens to be the idea that you get at the time," he told Reuters in an interview this week sitting in a soft chair in his dark, unpretentious Park Ave office filled with boxes, a smiling assistant and no sign of a shrink's couch.

"People think there is a design to it, but there is not. It is a desperate attempt to come up with a viable idea so that you can earn your salary that year," he said in typically droll fashion about his latest film effort.

Allen has always been beloved in Europe. But such gushing from American critics -- whose reviews have made "Midnight in Paris" currently the top-rated movie on critic aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes with 92 percent approval -- is unusual.

Ever the contrarian, Allen dismisses whether it means Americans are finally ready to forgive him for his past misdemeanors, notably the tabloid scandal over his relationship and marriage to Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of his former long-time partner, Mia Farrow.

"I fell in love with this girl, married her, we have been married for almost 15 years now, we have children. There was no scandal, there was a lot of tawdry press," Allen said.   Continued...

<p>Director Woody Allen attends a news conference for his film "Midnight In Paris" at the 64th Cannes Film Festival May 11, 2011. The Cannes film festival runs from May 11 to 22. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier</p>