I’ll just state it outright, so you know. I’m an unabashed admirer of the Woodman. One could even argue that “Woody Allen movie” constitutes a genre of film. Directors like Allen, the Coen Brothers, Tarantino, and Hitchcock are essentially examples of “auteurs”. Their names constitute a “brand” of film. But I digress …
Manhattan works on many levels as a movie. Made and released post-Annie Hall (and post-Interiors – Allen’s most serious drama), it continued Allen’s departure from his “early funny movies” (to quote yet another of his films).
In it, Allen’s character, Isaac, falls hard for a girl young enough to be his daughter, played with understated poise by Mariel Hemingway. Isaac is, of course, Allen’s alter-ego, no matter what he may say to the contrary.
While Allen moons over the youthful Mariel, he strikes up a relationship with Diane Keaton. Keaton, trooper that she is, plays the mildly irritating intellectual woman from Philadelphia, who mispronounces Vincent van Gogh’s name so memorably – “Van Go-ghhh” – with the second syllable emitted like a guttural cough.
There’s only one problem. Keaton is doing the nasty with Allen’s best friend – a married professor.
Okay, so there’s a love story, complete with triangle. Possibly rectangle, if you count Mariel. Or a pentagon, if you count the professor’s wife. Or not.
On top of all this, Manhattan is a movie where Woody Allen asks the tough questions. Does love last forever? What is life about? What makes life worth living? Should I dally with a woman from Philadelphia who actually believes that owning a wiener dog is a form of penis envy?
But, above all, Manhattan is a love letter to New York City. A city that suffered major economic problems during the late 70s. Filmed in gorgeous black-and-white, Manhattan looks like a moving picture post card that captures the dream version of the city. The New York of Forties movies. The city that captivated Allen, despite all its flaws. The music of Gershwin completes the scenario. And some of the shots are simply epic.
I’ll award this film two thumbs-up!
PS: This is too awesome not to share! 🙂