Saturday, July 26, 2008

Annie Hall

Once I had little patience with Woody Allen - he always seemed to play a self-obsessed neurotic character who just couldn’t stop talking. I suspect that I may have grown out of my short attention spans now – and that is perhaps the reason I am able to appreciate his movies far more. That could be a possible explanation of why I liked Annie Hall where Allen plays another of his neurotic characters. It was a very perceptive, if funny take on relationships and how complicated they are.
The movie is about the relationship between Alvy Singer, an 'anal' Jewish comedian and equally neurotic singer Annie Hall, who go through the usual mess of relationships - issues in bed, levels of commitment, dating blues and finally the problems of fundamental differences which makes them go seperate ways. (Literally). At every point you are wondering why they split up since they do love each other and are quite happy together. But as Allen puts it bluntly:
"I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member." That's the key joke of my adult life, in terms of my relationships with women.
And how often is it true that people are unable to feel safe and nestled in relationships that make them happy. Perhaps we are so insecure about the fading away of that happiness that we would rather see this death earlier than live in a dreaded anticipation for a long time. Is it that fundamentally we believe that we do not deserve true love or happiness? If we dread the end, the end already has landed on us and the relationship cannot really move forward, and thus in a way we bring about the end of our relationships ourselves.

The movie has a lot other things that make it a great film of wit - flashbacks in Bergman style, Alvy often speaking to the camera directly, Annie's spirit rising from the bed - everything that make it worthwhile to watch. But its brilliance is in its recongnition of the fundamental truth of the above lines.

5 comments:

Bit Hawk said...

The same thing had happened with me the first time I saw Annie Hall. I loved a few really witty scenes, but I was not too sure if I really liked the movie. Then I watched it again a few months later and realized I had missed most of the subtle brilliance in the movie. Now I am a huge huge fan of this movie. Love the Woody monologues, Diane Keaton, songs and especially the climax (shot from inside of a restaurant that shows the alienation so well) Truly one of Woody's best along with Manhattan!

Madhuri said...

Hi - Nice to see you here in a long time. I thought the marriage made you go off the blogging circle altogether :)
It is a brilliant movie - and I like both Manhattan and this one a lot now - not to speak of his real comic stuff like Curse of the jade scorpion :)

Brian said...

Quote: "I suspect that I may have grown out of my short attention spans now – and that is perhaps the reason I am able to appreciate his movies far more."

I can relate to that. But another factor that has allowed me to appreciate Woody Allen a lot more over the past year or two is watching his 70's and early 80's movies. Everything after that, he sort of repeats himself, but in the originals the comedy and approach is fresh-- which I suspect comes out in the entire production as well, as exciting fun can do. Annie Hall is 'must see' classic, along with Sleeper, A Midsummer's, Love & Death, Manhattan and A Purple Rose.

Ubermensch said...

I dont know it is the other way for me. I loved his harangues when I was young; I suppose mainly because it was so different, so so in your face. Now, its boring, but as a man, he is quite interesting.

Madhuri said...

I agree Brian, he has made some very good movies around that time - and I plan to watch all of them sometime soon.
Ubermensch, I think you have simply seen too much of the world to find most things interesting - I am walking many steps behind you :)