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Manhattan

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All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Manhattan

Starring: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton
Director: Woody Allen
Rated: R
RunTime: 96 Minutes
Release Date: March 1979
Genres: Comedy, Romance, Classic


*Also starring: Michael Murphy, Mariel Hemingway, Anne Byrne, Meryl Streep



Review by Brian Koller
3½ stars out of 4

"Manhattan" is a play with good cinematography. That is, there's no action scenes, but there is a great deal of dialogue, George Gerschwin music, and shots of New York City. The Gershwin soundtrack is actually intrusive, but the script is excellent.

Woody Allen directed, co-wrote and starred in the film. He is torn between two girlfriends: young and earnest Mariel Hemingway and indecisive pseudo-intellectual Diane Keaton. Keaton also has an on-off affair with Michael Murphy (who had just played another philandering husband in "An Unmarried Woman"). To complicate things further, Allen has quit his day job to write a novel, and is trying to stop his ex-wife (Meryl Streep) from publishing a tell-all expose of their marriage.

The script is terrific. Allen has a gift for self-deprecating humor, and can also milk commonplace setbacks (e.g. his new, inferior apartment has brown tap water) for laughs. Allen's sense of humor and romantic nature makes it almost credible that his character would be dating Hemingway and Keaton despite his unemployment and unromantic appearance.

Allen and his film characters seem to have much in common. Allen uses "Manhattan" as a platform to promote his art preferences (Bergman and Fellini for films, Louis Armstrong and George Gerschwin for music, etc) clearly favoring the nostalgic and esoteric over the present and popular. For most actors, this would be egotistical and distracting, but for Allen and "Manhattan" it works. This may be because Allen's character is an intellectual who would be expected to have and espouse such views.

Copyright 1999 Brian Koller

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