Timothee Chalamet Elle Fanning Liev Schreiber Jude Law Diego Luna
Completely fanciful. Woody Allen’s latest film comes straight from his brain—probably on a rainy day in New York. In the beginning, the dialog, the music, Chalamet’s character—everything is so enigmatic of the creator that it’s hard to put Woody out of the story. And he still stays for much of the story, but as it gets more and more madcap, he recedes a little bit.
Two upstate New York college students are off to New York City for her, a budding journalist, to interview a well-known filmmaker about his latest film for the college newspaper. She is definitely star-struck, and he is simply excited about going back to his hometown to revisit places like MOMA, the Carlton, Restaurant Daniel, and his favorite piano bars. Allen seems well aware of males in such situations to make her trip his trip. They head out, happily in love; he greeting the rainy weather as a welcome friend and romantic opportunity. (One of the things I found hilarious about the movie is the constant rain and characters’ different reactions to it.)
The differences in their expectations make up the heart of the movie. Very soon after they arrive, Ashleigh (Fanning) and Gatsby (intended reference), played by Chalamet, are on very different arcs of experience. As evidence(?) of her southwestern U.S. routes, she is carried along by people she’s impressed with, with little will of her own. He, being the cosmopolitan New Yorker, is constantly thrown to his own devices, which is de rigueur for him, and he orchestrates his own way, keeping a well balanced eye on who he is. She loses herself completely in situations; he is constantly aware of who he is wherever he is, even when new experiences come his way.
Ashleigh confronts a famous film director’s (Schreiber) existential crisis, his writer’s (Law) dealing with marital infidelity, and a film idol’s (Luna) disingenuous flirtation. Actually, they’re all smitten with Ashleigh—I suppose, to make a point in that it’s almost a cliché now. She embodies that wish that they all have of a young, beautiful woman who’s always sympathetic and adoring.
On the other hand, Gatsby deals with not being adored all the time, having to interact with an ex-girlfriend’s little sister (Gomez) who is clearly not impressed with him and apprises him of her sister’s low ratings of him. When he ends up having to attend his mother’s (marvelous Jones, as you’ve never seen her) hated society bash and he has a real conversation with her, the film gets down to the bottom line of what I think it’s about—which is, biases that separate people on trivial grounds and the importance of going beyond the apparent and digging deeper into situations and people.
Woody Allen is one of our most gifted filmmakers who is able to attract the best actors, keep his Oscar-winning cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (too many awards to name) on board, and provide music that captures every moment of every scene. Artistry abounds in every component of his films. Yet, something has happened that A Rainy Day in New York is met with only mediocre ratings by critics.
Maybe it’s too much Woody? His genes are in the story from start to finish, to be sure, and this starts to feel like a tired joke. And much of the action recalls too many of his previous works. This is all true. Beyond that, my personal reaction was against his casting a woman from Arizona as stereotypically naïve/uninformed/rather stupid. Numerous jokes about non-New York people were made as if anyone outside New York City is naïve at best and uneducated and uncouth at worst—all reflecting the old joke that New Yorkers don’t recognize anything beyond its borders.
Ya have to be a Woody Allen fan to enjoy this movie; otherwise, you may be nonplussed unimpressed, or even offended.
Grade: C+ By Donna R. Copeland