A love letter to NYC that explores the neurotic life and loves of a twice-divorced comedy writer, played by Allen himself. After his wife leaves him for another woman, Issac must choose between his young and earnest girlfriend Tracy or his best friend’s ex-mistress, the pseudo-intellectual Mary.
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It's amazing to me how many people fall for his bullshit. It's all up there on the screen. He has a beautiful wife played by Meryl Streep, but he makes her into a lesbian shrew so he can sleep with Mariel, who's only 18. We know that he actually likes them even younger. The amazing part is how he plays reluctant and he has his friends talk him into it. People don't care. It's like "throwing pennies at a battleship".
Allen's bittersweet love letter to NYC still stands as one of his great films amongst many. The scripting and performances are quite magic as is the photography of Gordon Willis. Mariel Hemingway is heartbreaking as the young Tracy and Michael Murphy makes a great impression as Yale. At the heart of it all is a wonderful romanticism brought to life by the titular borough.
I don't know why, but Allen's cinema always looks overrated to me. Although Manhattan has beautiful urban scenes, it's a very pseudo-intelectual film about the urge of being less lonely: being that, it does not evoke any kind of emotion in me - it's not particularly funny or sad, it's contemporary adult-kids going cerebral. Thumbs up for the cast - it's a very cool ensemble.
Perhaps the ultimate "New York" movie, Woody Allen's MANHATTAN is a lovely mosaic of New York life as seen through the eyes of Isaac Davis (Allen), a neurotic writer in love with two women - a sweet but naive 17 year old girl and a worldly fellow writer. Looks at Manhattan through the eyes of smoky old black and white photographs and Gershwin music, perfectly evoking the city's rhythms and atmosphere.
there were some really promising moments like diane keaton's brilliant performance, but for a comedy, the lack of laughs in accordance with my humour is sort of a killer. the neurotic style of humour just does not grab me like i half wish it would. the scenes which reference chaplin visibly are the real fun of the film for me, which makes me think it could have been better. i just find myself thinking 'eh'.
Hemingway captures all the vulnerability of being a teenager (relatively speaking) in this film. I don't think she was more than 18. Allen was never able to find this same vulnerability in other young muses like Juliette Lewis and Scarlet Johansson, who came across as naively cynical in later movies.