“A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.”
I don’t have any cool intro for this one: it’s a great movie. I hadn’t seen any top-tier Woody Allen before, and I really just thought of him as a comedian that I never cared for, but this movie shows his full capacity as a creative artist. The romance and the comedy of Annie Hall is blended together in such a charming, honest way with a narrator who just wants to tell his story and does so beautifully. Annie Hall is often hailed as a landmark film, and it certainly stands out as well ahead of its time. This is a movie that innovated the film industry in a lot of ways while still holding a strong uniqueness over any movie put out today.
From the start, you know that Woody Allen is playing with structure. The opening monologue right into the camera feels theatrical, like part of a stand up set or the start of a play. Allen is relaxed and thoughtful as he opens the movie with some jumbled thoughts, and it leads us into a romantic tale that is authentic and heartfelt. I loved the scene early on where Allen is speaking to Diane Keaton about nothing in particular, but what they’re actually thinking is subtitled at the bottom. There’s also the scene where the two leads are having sex, but a second Diane Keaton gets up and walks away while the act is being done, suggesting emotional distance. Not only does Allen have a strong, complex view of the relationship, but he is able to convey it through some astounding cinematic decisions in a way no other movie really accomplishes.
While Woody Allen brings tremendous honesty to the character as well as a powerful directorial vision, I’m not sure what kind of movie this would be without the work of Diane Keaton. After I finished the movie, I rewatched the clip of the two leads meeting each other at the tennis court. Then I watched it a few more times, blown away by the charm that Keaton brings to the character of Annie Hall. Then the progression of her character reveals a complex woman who you start to root for more than Allen himself. It’s a rare breakup story where you fully understand both sides of the divide and get pulled into the emotional struggle with the characters. Instead of any one person feeling like an enemy, Annie Hall portrays life itself as the malevolent force. This is just what happens, Allen seems to suggest. People fall apart and we have to find a way to deal with it.
I’m typically wary of heavy romances, which too often rely on melodrama and hackneyed writing to elicit emotion. I was completely surprised by how Annie Hall does none of this. It actually feels like a relationship, and this is a powerful effect that very few movies are able to accomplish. Honestly, I can’t think of any movie that feels more honest than Annie Hall in how it portrays romance. It avoids the conventional “film relationship,” glamorized and immortalized through perfect little moments; rather, Annie Hall’s beauty is in its imperfection. The characters are awkward, the storytelling fragmented, and it’s just about people trying to figure things out. Instead of solving the conflict, Allen’s character learns to manage and live with it. However, the ending is far from sad. Allen brings a sense of wisdom and finality to the film’s conclusion that puts a smile on your face and makes you want to watch it again right away.
While it still isn’t my favorite type of movie, Annie Hall is a film that meant a lot to me. The way the relationship is conveyed in such a genuine, messy way is inspiring to see in a film. It’s a beautiful exploration of some simple themes in a complex way, guided along smoothly by the impeccable storytelling of Woody Allen. Annie Hall is a movie I see myself watching again many times in the future, and it solidifies Woody Allen as a leading figure in New Hollywood cinema. This is definitely the type of movie I want to see more of.
Films Left to Watch: 944