Film Focus: Annie Hall (1977)

Woody Allen, one of the greatest directors of all time, has plenty of rhetoric mingled in the 1977 masterpiece Annie Hall, one of those movies that is unlikely to ever age in time precisely because its authenticity and truthfulness are way too advanced even for the modern citizen who’s been allowed access to all knowledge there is. You know why? Because relationships can be messy and puzzling, especially when two opposites attract, and that’s something even time can’t change. And it takes a genius mind like Woody Allen to analyze love in such a poetic, philosophical and genuinely taboo-less manner to still have us talking about it.

Alvy Singer, currently a middle-aged man trying to figure out life and mostly why his relationship with Annie fell apart, is a stand-up comedian who admits that he has a bit of trouble between fantasy and reality”. He then saves no time and involves us in the story of his life with some sort of a melodramatic but witty opening scene that brings us to his hidden secrets, painful childhood, spicy fantasies, brutal honesty, and what seems to be an infinite amount of intellectualism.

Annie Hall, on the other hand, one of the many girlfriends of Alvy, and perhaps the one, suffers from what is known to be absent-mindedness. She’s the carefree opposite of the very pragmatic and organized, yet chaotic in his own way, Alvy.

All it takes is a meeting for Annie to be head over heels over Alvy. Later on, all it takes for Alvy is a lifetime to be over Annie. Funny how love works sometimes. Little did Alvy know that no relationship can survive if you’re constantly trying to push the other person to change, even if you think that the change you envision will, in fact, benefit him or her. And in fact little did Annie know to match the intellectual profile of Alvy. A relationship doomed from the start, but a bond that had them both crawling back for more. Funny how love works out sometimes.

From the very first notion of death, The universe is expanding…well, the universe is everything and if it’s expanding, someday it will break apart and that would be the end of everything” to further psychology-fueled thinking, Annie Hall unfolds as a visual psychoanalysis, as to why one’s relationship didn’t work out, that would probably have had even Freud clapping at the perfectly written script if he was still alive at the time of its release.

With Annie Hall, Woody Allen introduces complexity to screenwriting, more specifically to the screenwriting for comedy, by giving the idea that the perfect dialogue suggests you have to know to read between the lines. What’s more, Annie Hall dares to publicly address sexuality and further expose the viewer with erotic images among the constant philosophical discussions. “The most fun I’ve had without laughing,” Alvy far from shyly admits in one of those pillow talks.

The romantic masterpiece Annie Hall, autobiographical hints all over it, easily charms with its sincerity and sarcastic humour, brilliant acting from Woody Allen and Diane Keaton, and witty, sophisticated rhetoric presented in an unforgettably original manner. No one’s to blame if you fall in love at first watch, and don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Published in Strathclyde Telegraph, 2015.

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