Movie Review: “Annie Hall” or “How hot was Diane Keaton?”

Cool Poster, right?

Annie Hall (***)

So let me get this straight. Woody Allen playing himself Alvy Singer is a 40 year old balding schlub and she comes on to him?!?! She was 11 years younger than he when they filmed this, and we all know Woody’s tendancies, but for real? I had no idea it started so early!

Let’s get real for a second. This is one of the most celebrated romantic comedies of all time. It even beat Star Wars at the Oscars, giving jedis-in-training every where healthy debate fodder. So I had relatively high expectations going into this film. Another thing I should probably admit before it’s too late… I loathe Woody Allen. We’ll get there later.

This film has three great strengths, and they’re three big ones. The script is actually pretty tight. It does what (500) Days of Summer did about 30 years before and just as well. And without it being a gimmick. It also really touches on the insecurity of being in a couple, the push and pull of togetherness in a thoughtful and unique way. The relationship between Alvy and Annie (I actually almost forgot her name…) allows for so many conversations about what is a healthy happy relationship. Some of the best scenes are the mundane nights spent cooking lobsters or just after sex. This is what a couple is like. Add in tones of education bias, stereotyping, and crazy parents, and you’ve got something pretty great.

The next strength of the film is the visual invention. I’ll hand it to director Woody Allen, it’s pretty good. There are so many great long takes, fantastic visual gags, and wonderful composition. In a movie that really could be so stagnant, he keeps the pace moving so quickly. This is achieved through a quick script and lots of clever filming strategies. Maybe Allen throws too many things up there. It occasionally looks like a 4th grader who just discovered Powerpoint custom slide changes (“Star wipe!”). We’ve got split screens, ghost bodies, breaking the fourth wall, animation, flashbacks, adults as children, etc. It can be a lot to handle, but it’s mostly kept contained and it’s always fresh and exciting.

Effortless.

So Diane Keaton is wonderful. Effortless. Natural. Radiant. And! She makes you believe someone that pretty is falling in love with the baldie. Her singing actually adds to the film’s texture and she plays the under-educated liberal so well. Her mannerisms are pitch perfect and entirely endearing. Heck, I’m a little smitten. I can definitely see why Woody Allen was.

Speaking of which – Woody Allen sucks. As an actor. His directing… quite formidable in this film. Acting? Almost unbearable. He plays only himself, a task so easy they have bobble heads that do it. He just sputters mildly well written jokes at lightning speed, not stopping to see if his movie audience or his film audience gets it. His comedic timing is so comedy driven, that it loses the humanity that would allow him to communicate. He never allows for a give and take and just shoves his way through any scene. And really. What self respecting 30 year old is dating a twice divorced 40 balding 40 year old? How was he married twice to begin with?!?!

P.S. Did you know at restaurants Woody Allen tips 50%?

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