‘I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable…’
Woody Allen is a hugely iconic and influential figure in both comedy and cinema. The awkward, self-deprecating humour favoured by Larry David and Ricky Gervais has its roots in the career of Woody Allen and none of his work is as acclaimed as his 1977 masterpiece Annie Hall (winner of a Best Picture Oscar over Star Wars no less).
My own relationship with Allen (gross) is based entirely around two movies; Midnight in Paris and Blue Jasmine. While I enjoyed the literary allusions in Midnight in Paris and the Southern belle hysteria of Blue Jasmine, Allen is writer and director only of those films so it doesn’t capture his heyday of both writing and starring in feature films, not just in Annie Hall but also in Manhattan and many others.
Alvy Singer (Allen) is a neurotic comedian (natch) who falls in and out of love with aspiring nightclub singer Annie Hall (Diane Keaton). The film employs modernist techniques such as animation, breaking the fourth wall and a film within a film in order to keep a simple love story bursting with ideas. It is this daring cinematography, coupled with the endlessly quotable dialogue, that has ensured that Annie Hall is still recognised as a classic over forty years later.
But did I enjoy it? I guess I did. I watched this film as it was one of my cinematic new year’s resolutions for 2018 and also because it is a Best Picture winner. And I’m glad that I did. But a lot of the one liners are so ubiquitous now that they have kind of lost all meaning and there was nothing here that I could really connect to.
In terms of accomplishment, Annie Hall is clearly an impressive achievement but on a personal level it didn’t touch me. A necessary film but not a classic.