, Woody Allen's follow-up to Oscar-winning Annie Hall
, is a film of many distinctions: its glorious all-Gershwin score, its breathtakingly elegant black-and-white, widescreen cinematography by Gordon Willis (best-known for shooting the Godfather
movies); its deeply shaded performances; its witty screenplay that marked a new level in Allen's artistic maturity; and its catalogue of Things that Make Life Worth Living. Allen's "Rhapsody in Gray" concerns, as his own character puts it, "people in Manhattan who are constantly creating these real, unnecessary, neurotic problems for themselves, because it keeps them from dealing with more insoluble, terrifying problems about the universe". It's a romantic comedy about infidelity and betrayal, the rules of love and friendship, young girls (a radiant and sweet Mariel Hemingway) and older men (Allen), innocence, and sophistication. (a favourite phrase is used to describe a piece of sculpture at the Guggenheim: "It has a marvellous kind of negative capability".) The film's themes can be summed up in two key lines: "I can't believe you met somebody you like better than me", and "It's very important to have some kind of personal integrity". OK, so they may not sound like such sparkling snatches of brilliant dialogue, but Manhattan
puts those ideas across with such emotion that you feel an ache in your heart. --Jim Emerson
Nominated for two Academy Awards®, and considered “one of [Woody] Allen’s most enduring accomplishments” (Box Office
is a wry, touching and finely rendered portrait of modern relationships set against the backdrop of urban alienation. Sumptuously photographed in black and white (Allen’s first film in that format), and accompanied by a magnificent Gershwin score, Allen’s aesthetic triumph is a “prismatic portrait of a time and a place that may be studied decades hence” (Time
). 42-year-old Manhattan native Isaac Davis (Allen) has a job he hates, a 17-year-old girlfriend, Tracy (Mariel Hemingway), he doesn’t love, and a lesbian ex-wife, Jill (Meryl Streep), who’s writing a tell-all book about their marriage…and whom he’d like to strangle. But when he meets his best friend’s sexy intellectual mistress, Mary (Diane Keaton), Isaac falls head over heels in lust. Leaving Tracy, bedding Mary and quitting his job are just the beginnings of Isaac’s quest for romance and fulfilment in a city where sex is as intimate as a handshake--and the gateway to true love…is a revolving door.