Mig og Annie
“Annie Hall” is the highly celebrated breakthrough movie of Woody Allen that earned four Academy Awards and setup Woody Allen as the king of neurotic New Yorker comedy.
By all rights, this should be a movie to look forward to and as far as I can see, it still has a large fanbase among bloggers.
Unfortunately for me, I have never really been into this kind of comedy and my impression of Woody Allen has long been that I like his movies better when he is not in them. That is not a great starting point.
“Annie Hall” is all about Woody Allen’s neurotic New Yorker persona. More specifically it is about the relationship between himself (as Alvy Singer) and Diane Keaton’s Annie Hall, though mostly from his point of view. It is a non-linear story that showcases a number of episodes from their relationship in what may be an attempt at explaining what went wrong between them. Both are socially disastrous personas, Alvy is hyper neurotic and egomaniac while Annie is ditzy and unfocused. Whereas Annie to some extend gets herself under control and grow up, Alvy does not.
The comedy here stems from that both, though particularly Alvy, wear their feelings on the sleeves and are very vocal about them, mixing in jokes and sarcasm. His frequent reference to the Marx Brothers joke about not wanting to be a member of a club that would accept himself, is a pretty good description of him. Alvy is afraid of everything, obsessed about death and see antisemitism everywhere. Hiding behind jokes really does not make him any more tolerable.
Some of those jokes are fun though, I have to admit. The talk on the roof-top where they are having an inane discussion, but through the subtitles are having a very different talk, is a very nice tough. Some of his observations are also good, when the self-pity and self-loathing has been cut away.
I do have a lot of sympathy for awkward types with low self-esteem, but actively destructive types like Alvy Singer feels more like poison and the sympathy drowns in the bottomless sea of egotism. He never really sees anybody but himself or anybody else as more than a reflection of himself. The narcissism level is sky-high, and it does not really help that he does not like what he sees.
Maybe Alvy Singer is just a more honest person, maybe this is what people are mostly, beneath the veneer of politeness, but that is a very very sad thought and I prefer not to believe that.
There is a lot of modernity in “Annie Hall”, so much that I suppose the seventies or at least New York City in the seventies is practically identified with this movie. The concerns of the period, relationship analysis, sexual liberation and the costs of it, the sense of floating in uncharted seas. There is a lot to sink teeth into here, small elements and features, that may have felt like novelties at the time, but now are culturally embedded in the following generations.
Another element that makes this movie noteworthy is the number of future stars who have small parts or even screen debuts in “Annie Hall”. Christopher Walken, John Glover, Beverly D’Angelo, Jeff Goldblum and Sigourney Weaver are all there if you can spot them. That is quite remarkable.
“Annie Hall” is an interesting and different movie. It is a movie that in many ways are looking forward, but it is also a movie that, in my opinion is suffering from the classic, insufferable Woody Allen characters.
I know why Annie left him. She got tired of holding up the mirror in front of Alvy, realizing there is more to life than that. I do not need to hold a mirror for Woody Allen and can move on.