Monday, September 5, 2011
Film review: "Manhattan" (1979)
Joe and I got out of the Twin Cities for a few days and spent the weekend in the Big Apple with some friends. We took in a day of tennis at the U.S. Open, saw Memphis on Broadway (fantastic btw), and enjoyed some great meals. No Meryl sightings unfortunately. I thought what better Meryl film to review than Woody Allen's 1979 romantic comedy Manhattan! Mind you, Meryl has like four minutes of screen time in this film. Nonetheless, it is a Meryl movie and I watched it this afternoon for only the second time. So on we go.
Most of you have likely gathered by this point that when I write a film review, it's really more about Meryl's performance than the film itself. You want a thorough synopsis, check simplystreep.com. Meryl plays Jill, ex-wife to Allen's character Isaac, who left her husband for another woman. It's Meryl's first run as a (lipstick) lesbian onscreen. I'd have to say that this is the best Meryl has ever looked in a film (as you can see above), like a foxy man-eater, and plays it well.
I'm not sure how to analyze her brief performance. She's certainly convincing, believable as an intelligent (big stretch), independent and ambitious young woman. The actual stretch in her role is the major mismatch of her having been married to Woody Allen's character. Um, gross. Ok, I get that he's probably a smart guy, maybe a bit charming, but the dude is so damn neurotic onscreen and resembles an insect. Not sure it's an act.
Mariel Hemingway did a great job as Isaac's 17 year-old girlfriend and got an Oscar nomination for supporting actress. Again, mismatch! Frankly I think Diane Keaton is the best thing in this movie, although she's definitely the most neurotic one of all, as she's supposed to be.
Overall I enjoy the screenplay of this film. It's wordy and smart, although a little annoying at times because there is little time off from speaking. This was one of three movies Meryl did in 1979 (along with The Seduction of Joe Tynan and Kramer vs Kramer). She came away with an Oscar for Kramer and is remembered for an iconic film about NYC in another. Not too shabs, miss Meryl. I've seen her in an interview say that she spent about a total of three weeks shooting both films.
I sort of feel like this review has been a bit all over the place, but I've been up for seventeen hours and I don't feel like editing. I doubt I've offended anyone. Go Meryl.