fri 03/07/2020

A Rainy Day in New York review - one of Woody's later, patchy ones | reviews, news & interviews

A Rainy Day in New York review - one of Woody's later, patchy ones

A Rainy Day in New York review - one of Woody's later, patchy ones

Chalamet and other young stars keep Allen's latest Manhattan fantasy afloat

Kvetching in the rain: the less than great Gatsby (Timothée Chalamet)Signature Entertainment

Woody Allen’s filmography, like Michael Caine’s, is remorseless, accepting mediocre work to mine more gems than most. Even after his career and this film’s planned 2018 release became collateral damage to #MeToo and a revived child abuse allegation, he has kept directing. A Rainy Day in New York is a thorough résumé of late Woody flaws, but still sparks with residual brilliance.

The octogenarian Allen is increasingly divorced from modern life and remotely realistic plots. Undeterred, he sends young lovers Gatsby (Timothée Chalamet) and Ashleigh (Elle Fanning, pictured below centre with Rebecca Hall and Jude Law) from their posh upstate New York college to Manhattan, where the titular day sees them separated by multiple misadventures. Unworldly Ashleigh pinballs from Liev Schreiber’s disillusioned director to Jude Law’s cuckolded screenwriter to Diego Luna’s raffish film star, while Chalamet bumps into earthier old acquaintance Chan (Selena Gomez, pictured bottom left). She punctures Allen’s own May-December trope, musing, “What’s so sexy about short-term memory loss?”, dismissing Gatsby’s nice country girl while she’s at it (“What do you guys talk about, cactus?”). There are other funny lines, though too few, in one of Allen’s later, patchy ones.

Rebecca Hall, Elle Fanning and Jude Law in A Rainy Day in New YorkChalamet and Gomez have close-up chemistry as he murmurs the standard “Everything Happens To Me” at a hotel piano, and young love goes through the mill almost like a conventional, contemporary romcom. But Gatsby’s most recent cultural reference is Yasser Arafat, and it’s the mobile phones which seem anachronistic, as if he really is a Fitzgerald character.

Allen’s snobby fascination with the gilded high society Gatsby was born into and affects to despise is a greater problem. “Real life is fine for people who can’t do any better,” Chan advises, and the lavish apartments we pass through, like Ashleigh’s film star date and the script’s outrageous coincidences, are all part of the director’s fantasy milieu, his social satire muzzled by social climbing. Vittorio Storaro’s cinematography has been Allen’s great blessing lately, gliding through shots with painterly peach glows and shadows, but even he can’t wholly blend the tonal discords, as moments of perfectly judged, Bob Hope-indebted whimsy crash into seedy bitterness, or bright sex comedy sours.

Selena Gomez and Timothee Chamalet in A Rainy Day in new YorkThe performances are subtly outsized and physical. Chalamet is floppy from his fringe to his limbs, shoulders hunched, charming smile tried on for size, gauche like a millennial James Stewart. Fanning is a marvellous symphony of unselfconscious awkwardness, squinting and grinning, uptight yet flapping wildly: Oscar-worthy, unique screwball fireworks, except Academy voters never saw it.

The ditzy ignorance of latter-day young Allen women, Ashleigh included, can suggest misogyny, these degraded Annie Halls disappointing their creator that they’re not Diane Keaton (who Fanning for once positively recalls). But then, like Kate Winslet’s desperate rawness in his previous scandal-wrecked film, Wonder Wheel, or Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine, why does he consistently mine female brilliance? Gomez even pulls off a convincingly modern, tough-minded woman, virtues Woody usually awards with age.

As to the charge which made Amazon, Chalamet and Gomez rush to disown Allen, in steep contrast to Weinstein or any other #MeToo monster, he was immediately investigated and found innocent in 1992, and in his 84 years is otherwise unaccused. The benefit of the doubt, at the very least, surely applies. It seems to me fair to leave it at that, when pondering his increasingly peculiar films.

Chalamet is floppy from his fringe to his limbs, gauche like a millennial James Stewart

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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