Starring: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Michael Murphy
Director: Woody Allen
Running Time: 96 mins
Manhattan is an American film about a divorced middle-aged man who, despite having a relationship with a 17 year old girl, falls in love with his best friend’s mistress, a woman he initially despises.
The 1970s were easily the Golden Age of Woody Allen’s career. He’s made some great films over the years, but his best came in that period, and Manhattan is one of them. It may not be as entertaining and original as the brilliant Annie Hall, but it’s still an intriguing story about modern romances, posers, and the New York lifestyle.
I’m going to start off with what I liked most about Manhattan, and that was the performances. Woody Allen is fantastic in the lead role, and always a joy to watch, expertly bringing his ingenious dialogue to life on screen. Meanwhile, Diane Keaton is wonderful to watch, because despite her character’s various.annoying traits, she has such a fantastic on screen presence, and works brilliantly alongside Woody Allen.
It’s also a very well-written film. Woody Allen always makes witty and intriguing screenplays full of a variety of personalities (apart from his own character), and that’s no exception here. I wasn’t laughing my head off from start to finish like Annie Hall, but there’s a lot of great subtle humour throughout the movie that goes hand-in-hand with Allen’s satire of snobbish upper middle class posers in New York, which was pretty fun to watch.
The other thing that makes Manhattan a great film is the way it portrays modern relationships. It’s a realistic and emotional story that strays very far from the romantic comedy formula, and that makes it very engaging to watch. The relationships between characters aren’t portrayed as Cinderella stories, because no matter how happy everyone is, someone has a reason that they have to get out of it, a sad but true comment on the way people have to live when they fall in love unexpectedly.
Now, I did like Manhattan a lot, but there are a few problems which prevented it from being a really great watch. For one, it does feel a little on the pretentious side. That’s a tight line that Woody Allen’s movies have always walked, and I think this just oversteps the mark. It’s nothing to do with the film’s pacing, its romance scenes or its black-and-white cinematography, but some of its comments on certain topics feel a little high-horsed and hypocritical. It’s not a major gripe, but it did occasionally frustrate me and take me out of the moment.
Overall, I enjoyed Manhattan, from its great performances to its fantastic dialogue and story. It may not be a riotously entertaining watch, and may come across as a little pretentious from time to time, but it’s still on the whole a great film, and that’s why it gets a 7.6 from me.