[Film Review] Manhattan (1979)


Title: Manhattan
Year: 1979
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Woody Allen
Woody Allen
Marshall Brickman
Cinematography: Gordon Willis
Woody Allen
Diane Keaton
Michael Murphy
Mariel Hemingway
Meryl Streep
Anne Byrne
Karen Ludwig
Wallace Shawn
Rating: 7.0/10

The opening shots of MIDNIGHT IN PARIS (2011) can easily hark back to this Black & White paean to New York made more than three decades age, with the same deployment of representative landmarks (although I have yet set my foot on America).

The story-line may suit perfectly as a prophesy for Allen his own private life decades later, to which I am trying my best shun away since the independence of the film should be irrelevant of the creator’s personal idiosyncrasy, which is a hard call in this case.

It’s a petit bourgeois melodrama, could be a sequel of ANNE HALL (1977), there is still Allen and Keaton, and Allen is still a neurotic and nagging cipher, but Keaton here is not a winning scatterbrain, instead being characterized as a high-strung lost cause, which in a sense, these two are very much alike, pretending sophisticate as a charade to conceal their immature rationality.

Word is Allen’s strongest weapon, so albeit being a bit piqued by the characters (pretentiousness, stupidity and high-brow condescending), the script itself has its shrewdness and comedic tones will suffice to launch an ambiguous attachment towards our commonplace life. The “humongous” ex-husband Jeremiah (a cameo by Wallace Shawn) is a caustically satirical prank to highlight the core of self-deception and all the hogwash people brag everyday.

This film should also be conceived as a tribute to silent masterpieces (Chaplin’s work maybe), the George Gershwin strains are a true rhapsody for fanboys. Visually there are great silhouettes when Allen and Keaton are together, most noteworthy is when they are conversing against the artificial starry night in the museum (which along with the ex-wife’s lesbian family, I may detect some references which would later appear in the magnate soap opera FRIENDS).

I am a bit bemused to find out Mariel Hemingway has procured an Oscar nomination because she barely has any juicy presentation apart from one heart-breaking segment, but if one must pick someone to grant the appreciation, Hemingway is the best choice since she is the only lovable character in the film. Allen and Keaton can not surpass ANNE HALL which is only two years earlier (although no one looks better than Keaton in the trouser-and-stiletto combo). Michael Murphy, if not the weakest linkage in the midst, is a quite lame professor, unabashedly self-centered scumbag. Streep, only has three major scenes as the dashing lesbian ex-wife, which are all setting against a perpetually occupied motion.

3 thoughts on “[Film Review] Manhattan (1979)

    • It’s interesting to know Allen disowned it, the inside story sounds juicier to me! thanks for the comment!

  1. Pingback: [Last Film I Watch] Frances Ha (2012) [7/10] | Cinema Omnivore

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