Viewed – 01 March 2014 online rental
There is something immediately comforting about siting down to a Woody Allen movie. As a long time fan of this celebrated, iconic director what was presented to me was very familiar … minimalist opening credits, a collection of characters discussing relationships, art, interior design with enthusiasm and intelligence … that gentle jazz background music. Classic Allen harking back to Manhattan. Then of course we get Cate Blanchet as a stuck up New York socialite brought crashing down to earth after her wealthy husband (Alec Baldwin) is found out to be a crook, and she has to slum it with her ghetto sister Ginger and Ginger’s Italian boyfriends…
Blanchet, one of the finest actors of her generation shines as the neurotic, troubled, egocentric forced to start again, but seemingly unable to accept that her life is very different now. A character study of a woman with seemingly everything handed to her on a plate, who reluctantly has to actually work to make something of herself. Good support comes from Boardwalk Empire’s Bobby Cannavale as one of Ginger’s boyfriends, and Sally Hawkins as Ginger is suitably likable and the polar opposite to Blanchet. Allen’s direction can not be sniffed at either, with his camera work really casting a beautiful glow on Blanchet, arguably one of the most uniquely attractive actresses around. Swapping his usual New York setting for San Francisco gives the movie plenty of character, even if this isn’t as with other movie’s in the director’s back catalogue … a love letter to the city.
Perhaps Allen at his lightest, it lacks the genuine wit and charm of something like Annie Hall or even the more recent Midnight In Paris, but with a strong, complex central performance I still came away with a smile.
Verdict: 3 /5