Saturday, 18 September 2010

Therapy, drugs and commitment issues in New York City

Annie Hall

20 April, 1977

Directed by: 
Woody Allen
Produced by:
Charles H. Joffe 
Jack Rollins
Written by: 
Woody Allen 
Marshall Brickman
Woody Allen
Diane Keaton
Tony Roberts
Carol Kane
Paul Simon
Shelley Duvall 
Christopher Walken
Jeff Goldblum
Sigourney Weaver 
Summary: This film tells the story of comedian Alvy Singer’s (Woody Allen) rocky relationship with Annie Hall (Diane Keaton). The film shows the course  of their relationship, from its highs to its lows. It is intertwined with flashbacks about Alvy’s difficult childhood and his (and Annie’s) past relationships. Alvy is an organised mess and in the words of Annie he is “incapable of enjoying life.” This serious representation of Alvy’s life as a Jewish New Yorker remains humorous from beginning till end. 

My Favourite Scene: One of the reasons I loved this film was because it did not have a typical Hollywood happy ending where everything turns out perfectly, because that is not real. That is not life. 

After Alvy flies to California and Annie refuses to return home with him, he finishes writing his first play, in which he uses the last the conversation that he and Annie had in California, where she tells him: “You're like New York.  You're an island.” However, in the play, Alvy’s character takes control and walks away from the relationship, but Sunny (based on Annie) tells him she is going with him and that she loves him

I thought this was a strong scene because it reflected how Alvy wanted things to turn out. He says “You know how you're always trying to get things to come out perfect in art because it's real difficult in life.” Which I think sums it up brilliantly.

My Favourite Quotes: 
Alvy Singer: (In California, talking about award shows) “What's with all these awards? They're always giving out awards. Best Fascist Dictator: Adolf Hitler.”

Alvy Singer: Don't you see the rest of the country looks upon New York like we're left-wing, communist, Jewish, homosexual pornographers? I think of us that way
sometimes and I live here.”

Alvy Singer: “If I get too mellow, I ripen and then rot.” 
My Thoughts: I think it’s very rare to find a talented actor, writer and director like Woody Allen. I loved the introduction to this film. It was very refreshing and different compared to so many other rom-coms. Alvy’s character often ‘breaks the fourth wall’ and speaks to the audience. He also enters his and other character’s minds and memories, as well as using animation (for the scene of Alvy and his relationship with the witch). 
Something I love about Alvy is his paranoia. He thinks everyone is judging him and this constantly worries him. Something about himself that affects him is that fact that he’s Jewish. Living in New York, relatively fresh from the Second World War, Alvy faces persecution from Annie’s ‘Grammy’. Grammy (according to Annie) would call him a “real Jew”, to which Alvy replies sarcastically “Oh. Thank you.”

Alvy’s also uses humour as a defence. Whenever in an awkward situation, he cracks a joke to break the tension. I think the most important issue the film deals with is commitment. Alvy knows he loves her, but it is not until the end of the film
that he realises how much he needs her. 

The only negative thought I have about this film is Paul Simon, who plays Tony Lacey. Unfortunately (as I expected when I found out he was playing a character) his performance was disappointing. He is an excellent and talented musician, but in terms of his acting performance, it lacked emotion. He seemed very awkward and did not deliver his lines well. 

Other than Simon’s performance, I enjoyed every moment of this film. I particularly liked poor Annie’s first performance at the bar, where the sound system was failing, glasses were crashing, people were talking and even someone’s phone went off! I loved the contrast between her singing performances in the film, because it demonstrated how Alvy had changed how she felt about herself.

He had definitely made her believe in herself. I think this comedy really captures real life in the way that others do not. It was not predictable at all and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it. I think Annie Hall rates top of my best romantic comedies.

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