Annie Hall (1977) (PG)
The most triumphant and celebrated of Woody Allen's movies is a blinding success for not just one reason. Essentially everything it tries to do, it hits perfectly. The calm and collected, zany meets depressive, pseudo-realsitc view on love has landed this film in Oscar history as well as a permanent place in the hearts of its audience.
The movie begins as another Woody Allen-type character, (played by Allen, naturally) gives us the opening monologue which states that he, Alvy Singer, has such a problem with relationships because he doesn't want to date anyone who would date him. It's these silly little things that you hear all the time as to why couples break up. Whether in real life it boils down to comfort, maturity, or emotional compatibility, I can't say; but in "Annie Hall", it seems that an aversion to commitment and a healthy dose of self-loathing don't help the situation.
Alvy Singer is a stand-up comedian who has not had the best experiences with women. His first wife seemed like the perfect woman but Alvy obsessed too much on current issues to avoid having sex with her and voila that's a good way to end a marriage. His second wife was a stickler and a socialite so we don't feel too bad for her disappearance.
There is no structural timeline for "Annie Hall", at least, none that appears chronologically. The movie fractures and bends and sometimes just confuses; but mostly it's a sheer joy to watch because there are no rules to this film. "Annie Hall" has no boundaries and we get some very memorable moments because of this: breaking the fourth wall, animation, conversations with extras, subtitles revealing the inner thoughts of the characters, etc. etc.
"Annie Hall" cleverly disguises itself as a comedy which makes us laugh until we get to the end. The film has its gut-busting funny moments; but mostly it's about romance. Relationships seem to baffle Allen, because he writes and directs about them so often. He doesn't quite seem to understand the way love works, add this to his neurotic tendencies and we get the cry of the many. Allen is a voice to the people; but we see it as humor instead of drama.
Eventually, we are shown Alvy Singer meeting Annie Hall (Diane Keaton in an adorable and Oscar winning role), the eccentric and completely lovable girl next door. She's quirky and a little self-critical; and the two of them quickly connect and start dating. The dating game plays out as you might imagine and Allen makes comments on everything involved in it from the first kiss to moving in together.
What I love more than anything about the film is how intimate it is. Allen crafts here his finest movie because amidst all the whistles and bangs that the movie throws at you, it's remarkably personal and manages to tip-toe the line between lovely and heart breaking.
"Annie Hall" would gain four Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director and has since been the movie to compare all other romantic comedies to. It's a high water mark in both Allen's career and cinema in general which is a rare accomplishment. Perhaps the most depressing of all must-see romantic movies, "Annie Hall" makes you treasure the relationships you've had while wishing that your life was perfect. It's a great movie, faultless and watchable time and time again.
Posted by Micah Jones