Hot on the heels of his ANNIE HALL success, Woody Allen poured all of his energy into another romantic comedy starring Diane Keaton. MANHATTAN was nominated for two Academy Awards and secured Allen’s position as a force to be reckoned with in the film making industry.
Isaac Davis (Allen) is a comedy writer who is determined to give up his job to write a book. His best friend is Yale (Michael Murphy) who is both happily married and happily seeing a vivacious woman on the side (Diane Keaton). Any traditional romantic comedy would have our hero encourage his best friend to choose between the women in his life, but Isaac is not in the position to offer romantic advice. He’s 42-years-old dating a girl in high school. Life imitating art anyone?
When Isaac finally meets the mistress Mary, he’s put off by her snobbery. After running into her again at a fundraiser, he finds that arguing with this woman is extremely more fulfilling than entertaining the 17-year-old Tracy (Mariel Hemingway). A friendship is quickly formed after a night of dog walking by the Queensboro Bridge. To Isaac’s surprise, Yale breaks up with Mary to save his marriage and suggests that he ask her out. The relationship grows and Isaac suggests to his adolescent love that she find someone her own age to date. Everyone’s happy, right? Of course not. Yale still loves Mary. Mary still loves Yale. Isaac is dumped and runs back to the face he can’t forget…Tracy.
I had the opportunity to review ANNIE HALL and MANHATTAN in the same week. I watched them less than 24-hours apart. It was extremely difficult for me not to constantly compare the two movies and get the plots mixed up. The characters seem to suffer from the same problems, but with different names. Quirky weird guy with sexual issues, a tendency to self loathe and a propensity for Jewish fodder? Check. Younger woman idealizing said weird guy? Check. Stylized Wood Allen quick whit banter? Check.
The one character I haven’t mentioned is the one character that breathes a different life into this Allen film. And that character is Manhattan herself. Allen’s decision to shoot in black and white makes the city timeless. And folding in works by George Gershwin was absolutely brilliant. The opening montage of images of Manhattan accompanied by “Rhapsody in Blue” set the stage beautifully, including the opening lines: “He adored New York. He romanticized it all out of proportion.” That’s MANHATTAN in a nut shell.
Video: 1080p High Definition: Again, the decision to shoot in black and white was a smart one. The iconic Queensboro Bridge scene was particularly beautiful.
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio: The Gershwin soundtrack added so much richness and texture to the film. Another smart choice.