The City as Star.
- Manhattan review by Steve Mason
A love triangle of New York intellectuals are unable to apply the ethics and philosophy they constantly quote and analyse to their own lives in even the most basic way. Their narcissistic moral shiftiness is sugared by some consistently brilliant, witty dialogue, Gordon Willis' gorgeous black and white, widescreen photography of the city, and the Gerschwin score. But it contrasts with the character of Mariel Hemingway as Woody's seventeen year old girlfriend, who is the only person in the film who is able to apply a system of values to her actual choices.
With Annie Hall, Manhattan represents the peak of Allen's career in terms of public and critical recognition. They often seem to be seen as a pair, but Manhattan is much darker. The Allen character is quite an amoral anti-hero.
The real hero of the film is Manhattan Island magnificently captured for posterity. Including that famous shot of Allen and Diane Keaton against the 59th Street Bridge on the East River at dawn. Yet, the film Manhattan overwhelms with its huge surge of romanticism and the warm rush of nostalgia.
The performances are brilliant and the humour is legendary. To quote random example: My analyst warned me, but you were so beautiful I got another analyst. And it has one of the great closing lines in cinema, appropriately voiced by Hemingway, who sends the audience home with a dose of sweet wisdom.
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