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Annie Hall

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Annie Hall

Starring: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton
Director: Woody Allen
Rated: PG
RunTime: 94 Minutes
Release Date: January 1977
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Classic

*Also starring: Tony Roberts, Carol Kane, Paul Simon, Shelley Duvall, Colleen Dewhurst, Janet Margolin, John Glover

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Brian Koller review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review
2.  Walter Frith read the review ---

Review by Brian Koller
3 stars out of 4

"Annie Hall" is a very good comedy about relationships, from a realistic rather than romantic viewpoint. The film has many quirky and original comic techniques, all of which work. While not Allen's best film ("Manhattan" is even better), its strict focus on relationships, its accessiblity, and its originality make it his most popular.

Allen plays his usual character. He is a New Yorker, Jewish, liberal, intellectual, talkative, slightly neurotic, and involved in relationships. Carol Kane and Shelly Duvall appear briefly as love interests, but his primary target is Annie Hall (Diane Keaton). Keaton is endearing as a goofy hedonist and whispering supperclub singer.

Their romance is doomed by disparate interests. Allen wants Keaton mostly for himself, while she has a need for new experiences and new friendships. Tony Roberts plays Allen's sarcastic friend, while Paul Simon has a small role as a music producer. Christopher Walken appears briefly as Keaton's spooky brother.

The film's enduring popularity is due to the clever and witty script. "Annie Hall" is funny, regardless of the audience's demographic. Keaton is also very likable, much more so than Mia Farrow would be in later Allen-directed films.

"Annie Hall" is not an outstanding film, however. Early scenes take potshots at the working class, mocking the future careers of his grade school classmates, then making buffoons of blue collar types who recognize Allen as a celebrity. Later and more successful scenes belittle pseudo-intellectuals and Hollywood dealmakers. Still, the film's point seems to be that in the end, we are all selfish and shallow. Allen may be correct in this, but Keaton's free-style Annie belies his own conclusion.

"Annie Hall" focuses on Allen and not the title character. While this is natural, it seems to be asking the audience to take his side. It does help that Allen is very funny, and Allen-the-actor is given great lines by Allen-the-writer.

Allen gets away with risky, inventive techniques. In a flashback as a kid, Allen appears by the teacher's side, and takes a poll of his classmates' future occupations. He becomes an animated character to explore his relationship with the Wicked Queen in "Snow White". He asks a handsome, happy couple how they manage to stay together, and their remarkable reply is that they are shallow. During an early conversation between Allen and Keaton, subtitles show what the characters are thinking about while one desperately tries to present a appealing image to the other. Allen frequently talks to the camera. Keaton has an out-of-body experience while making love with Allen. Keaton and Roberts play Ghost of Christmas Past, appearing with Allen in one of his childhood flashbacks. What is surprising is that these various gags work, adding originality to what could otherwise have been an entertaining but conventional film about a romance.

1977 was the year of the science fiction blockbusters "Star Wars" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". Despite this, "Annie Hall" won Best Picture and Best Director (Allen), while Keaton won Best Actress. Allen (along with Marshall Brickman) also took the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, while Allen was nominated for Best Actor.

Copyright 1996 Brian Koller

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