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Saturday, October 26, 2019


(Timothée Chalamet, & Elles Fanning)

Woody Allen the 83-year-old man has now become the story for the #MeToo generation rather than the increasingly ignored films of Allen the director. This gossamer thin comedy, his 49th, takes him back to his old hunting ground of Manhattan. (Reviewed by Patrick Compton 6/10)

It’s becoming increasingly hard to ignore the backstory when a new Woody Allen film hits the big screen.

A Rainy Day in New York, his latest, was made in 2017 and was then ditched by its makers, Amazon Studios, because of renewed allegations of child abuse by his children, Dylan and Ronan Farrow. Now, like it or not, Allen is persona non grata in the US and his films, if seen at all, circulate in Europe and outposts like South Africa.

What makes matters even worse for Allen is that actors are starting to distance themselves from him. His leading actor in this film, Timothée Chalamet, has given his salary to charity, while Rebecca Hall, who plays a cameo as a cheating wife, has “regretted” appearing in the film. Not everyone has abandoned the Woody way, however, with Javier Bardem, for one, saying he will always be there for him.

Anyway, if you’re an Allen fan, and can ignore the noise around his alleged private life, Rainy Day is a characteristic offering, albeit inferior to more recent films like Blue Jasmine and Midnight in Paris, that are in turn not on the same page as his truly great movies such as Hannah and her Sisters.

Chalamet plays a quirky college student, Gatsby Welles (as heavy-handed a name as some of the one-liners), who accompanies his girlfriend and journalism major Ashleigh (Elles Fanning) to the Big Apple where she is to interview a major movie director.

As it turns out, the couple spend most of the weekend apart. After her interview, the ebullient and breezy Ashleigh gets involved with a bunch of considerably older men (something of a yuck factor) while the quirky Gatsby (more interested in gambling than academia) has his own adventures in old Manhattan, developing a relationship with a young woman who emerges from his past, Shannon (Selena Gomez), before ending up on the receiving end of a particularly dark confession from his mother (Cherry Jones).

It’s hard to know quite what to make of Rainy Day. On the positive side, Chalamet does an excellent job of playing the traditional Allen character, neurotic and charming by turns, while Fanning is striking as the ditzy tyro journalist. Vittorio Storaro’s poetic camera perfectly captures a romantic (and yes, rainy) Manhattan of yesteryear.

But Ashleigh’s scenes with a succession of film celebrities more than twice her age, involving cameos from Liev Schreiber (as a film director), Jude Law (as a producer) and Diego Luna (as a heartthrob actor) are awkward and increasingly distasteful.

Furthermore, for a comedy, Rainy Day is not particularly funny, although it has some magical moments. It works best, perhaps, as an exercise in melancholy.

A Rainy Day in New York is showing at Gateway Mall. – Patrick Compton