Dir: Woody Allen | Writer: Woody Allen, Marshall Brickman | Cast: Diane Keaton, Woody Allen, Mariel Hemingway, Meryl Streep, Anne Byrne Hoffman, Michael Murphy | 96min | US | comedy romance
Woody Allen’s witty and insightful New York satire is a seamless pleasure. Scenes in the life of a divorced writer are accompanied by George Gershwin’s music and Gordon Willis legendary camerawork. MANHATTAN captures the essence of 1970s cinema serving as a tribute to an era where friends talked in person on a regular basis and people met face to face and fell in and out of love in before the advent of social media and mobile phones.
Allen plays Isaac the neurotic central character attempting to find the perfect start to his novel about New York, a city that unfolds in black and white splendour against the iconic score (Rhapsody in Blue) and snapshots of Times Square, Broadway and Central Park. What follows is a sinuous story of Isaac’s studious teenage girlfriend (Mariel Hemingway), his second ex-wife (Meryl Streep) and her lesbian lover, his close friend and confident Yale (Michael Murphy), and wife and spiky journalist lover Mary (Diane Keaton).
The performances are peerlessly natural yet preternaturally witty. Beautifully framed and edited, Gordon Willis will forever be remembered for his shots of the Manhattan skyline that bookcase each scene. Mariel Hemingway gives an open and honest portrayal of first love and captures with poignancy what every girl should say when her lover comes back to acknowledge he can’t live without her.
Another classic New York comedy Noah Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale followed 16 years later. This heavier and more tortured film showed us that the world was already a much darker place. MT
MANHATTAN RETURNS TO CINEMAS NATIONWIDE FROM 12 MAY 2017 COURTESY OF PARK CIRCUS