Mei 17, 2019

Review Manhattan (1979)

“MANHATTAN” (1979)
By Woody Allen | USA
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Let me tell you upfront: I don’t like this movie, at least not as much as everyone else does. I really want to love it but something, or more accurately, someone is holding me back. That someone is Woody Allen, the man behind this off putting film that at the same time brewing with artistic brilliance yet also gets right under my skin.
If you have followed the news surrounding Hollywood, it’s impossible for you to miss the controversial case of Woody Allen’s relationship. Since 1997, Woody has been married to Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of his former lover Mia Farrow whom Woody met at the age of six. Now if that seems suspicious enough, just recently, Farrow’s other daughter has also came out and accuse Woody for an alleged sexual abuse he committed to her as a child. Now, I know this is all just allegations and his marriage is none of my concern but what makes this whole thing scary is how self-acknowledging Woody seems to be as to his true identity in his films, especially here in “Manhattan”.
Here Woody plays Isaac, a divorced man at the age of 42 who is dating a (you guessed it) an underage girl — yes, he’s not even subtle about it. The film then progresses by discussing the legitimacy of this relationship, which I have to admit have some interesting points to tell. Yet as it goes on it became more and more disturbing as to how Woody seems to be making a case of his infatuation to younger women. The film itself afterall is about maturity and how that affects a relationship. And in this story, we can conclude that sometimes age doesn’t determined romantic wisdom; seeing how out of all the characters here, be it Woody’s, Keaton’s, or Murphy’s, it is the youngest one who seems to have the biggest understanding and care about relationships than the others. Whereas the adults seems to pursue love out of their own self-interest or on the contrary, never gave it so much thought nor value at all, the young girl, played by Mariel Hemmingway, is the one who is most genuine and most caring to her partner, Woody’s Isaac.
So ultimately, what does that say about the film? And more importantly about Woody? I couldn’t help but think how the film is making a case that the younger someone is, the more caring and loving they are. Woody seems to believe this, as he continuously grind on his own character and his peers, even the lovable Diane Keaton, by potraying them as the miserable old fools that they are. The adults, the middle aged divorcees, they’re all depleted of all love and here Woody claims that only a 17 year old, full of high spirits and naivety can save him from that. It’s an interesting and honest message, I’ll give him that. But in the hands of an alleged sexual deviant? It almost killed the entire film.
So why the decent rating then? Well, I just couldn’t dismiss how great of a job everyone puts into this film — counting even Woody, despite his stance. The biggest MVP though, is cinematographer Gordon Willis whose black and white diorama of New York is an absolute masterpiece. That opening monologue by Woody alone with the sight of the many corners of the big apple itself, as the broadway jazz music playing along with it, is enough to take this film up a notch with everything that came after. Acting wise everyone is also doing a magnificent job. Diane Keaton — if you don’t know yet, she’s our biggest 70s crush — is charming as ever and is the definite star of this whole film; while Hemmingway and Murphy balances it off perfectly. And despite all, Woody is also still one of the best comedian and writer of his era.
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“Manhattan” is definitely Woody Allen, full of his characters of self-indulgence, pretentious, and freudian complexity. I may not enjoy those combined with the disturbing relationships potrayed, yet seeing how the film persevere so far, there’s gotta be a reason why people love it so much. That shot of the Brooklyn bridge came to mind.
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