Monday, January 25, 2010

Manhattan (1979)


Currently in a relationship with a high school student, Isaac (Woody Allen), quits his job, and tries to write his next book. Things get complicated when his best friend, Yale (Michael Murphy), begins an extramarital affair with Mary (Diane Keaton), as Isaac finds himself falling for Mary as well.

Continuing his streak of romantic analysis, Manhattan is a film of two faces. On one hand it's a portrayal of the beauty, and complications, of New York City, from the eyes of a man lost in his own life. While on the other hand it's a look at the various complications our different romantic inclinations throw us into throughout our life. It's sort of the staple of any classic Woody Allen film to be quite honest. Combining his often confusion with the different aspects of romance, with an intrigue for understanding the world around him, and if the two can co-exist on any level. It's always intriguing to observe, but often I find myself more appreciative for what Allen is trying to do, than what he often accomplishes.

With each actor perfectly portraying their roles, Allen is easily able to negotiate the rough terrain of intellectual dialogue, and side splitting humor, his audience comes to expect. Yet Manhattan is by no means a comedy. There's a few good laughs, but for the most part it's an analysis. Here is where we get into some rocky regions. While Allen is adept at the dialogue, and character development, at times I felt far to distanced from the characters to really care about their next decision. Some of them are left cold, and without appropriate balance for us to truly understand their various decisions. As such our view is mostly from the eyes of Isaac, the downside being events just occur, leaving us, and Isaac, oblivious as to why.

This all comes at the backdrop of some striking images of Manhattan. From the opening shot to the bridge scene, and final, Allen shows a great love for the city. It's nice to see such passion, but I don't share the same love, nor does the film do anything to convince me I should. The movie is really a testament to life in the city more than anything. The various ups and downs that go with it, and as such there's plenty to enjoy about the tale. It's far from perfect, but when a final dialogue as strong as the one Manhattan presents, you gain a nice bit of narrative closure... well, at least the amount of closure you get with any old school Allen film.

Using his best tactics, Allen crafts an enjoyable, while still flawed, film about life and love in Manhattan. It works, just not as well as it should have.

4 better thoughts:

Alfindeol said...

Looks like we are on the same page here. While I don't mind Allen's analysis, I just wish it didn't sound so much like analysis. It's really irritating to hear people talk like a thesaurus.

The Mad Hatter said...

Boooo! Seven and a quarter? Only seven and a quarter???

You weren't watching close enough - watch it again...

Univarn said...

@Alfindeol Yeah, it is irritating at times, but sometimes it works in the context of the film.

@Mad Nah, I'd rather watch Annie Hall again instead.

Sasha (The Final Girl Project) said...

Is it weird that I like this movie more than Annie Hall? (I should probably watch Annie Hall again.)

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