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Movie Review: ‘A Rainy Day in New York,’ Woody Allen’s latest romcom that echoes his past films set in NY

A Rainy Day in New York
A Rainy Day in New York

JUST like Clint Eastwood, Woody Allen is an icon in Hollywood as an actor who turned out to be a fine filmmaker. They also seem to have no intention to retire even if they’re now both in their mid-80s. Allen has been making one movie every year since 1981 but he skipped this year due to the pandemic.

His latest movie is “A Rainy Day in New York”, actually his 50th film, the release of which became problematic last year after Amazon Studios refused to release it saying it’s unmarketable because of the controversy concerning Allen, who then re-acquired the rights to release his own movie.

“A Rainy Day in New York” is a romcom starring Timothee Chalamet, all cheekbones, considered the hottest young actor in Hollywood today after he hit it big in “Call Me By Your Name” for which he got an Oscar best actor nomination. He’s doing one project after another, but he denounced his movie with Allen and donated all his earnings from it to charity after accusations of sexual abuse against Allen resurfaced because of the #MeToo movement.

He plays Gatsby Wells, a student with wealthy parents in New York City’s Upper East Side, but he’s studying in a fictional college in Upstate New York called Yardley, and has a girlfriend, Ashleigh (Elle Fanning). When Ashleigh is assigned by their school paper to interview a film director, Roland Pollard (Liv Schreiber), in Manhattan, Gatsby volunteers to accompany her so they can have a romantic weekend together in the city.

His parents are actually hosting a party that evening but he has no plans of showing up as he has a strained relationship with them. In Manhattan, Ashleigh gets to interview Pollard who invites her to a screening of his newest work. While Gatsby is walking around the city, he chances upon a friend who’s shooting a short film.

The actor who’s supposed to be in it is missing so his friend asks him to be the substitute in doing a kissing scene with the actress they got for the film. She turns out to be Chan (Selena Gomez), whose older sister was the former girlfriend of Gatsby.

They hit it off well and they later share the same taxi cab in the rain. They go together to the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) where Gatsby runs into some relatives who inform his parents that he’s in town, so he’s forced to attend their party that evening.

Ashleigh gets hooked in her conversations with Pollard and his writer, Ted Davidoff (Jude Law), and later with popular Latino actor, Francisco Vega (Diego Luna), who takes her to his apartment hoping to score with her. The nosey press sees them together and reports on TV that Ashleigh is Francisco’s latest conquest.

Gatsby sees this on TV and gets so disappointed he pays a hooker with the money he wins in a poker game to impersonate Ashleigh in meeting his parents. But his mom (Cherry Jones) quickly sees the ruse, drives away the hooker and reveals to him that she used to be a hooker herself.

Ashleigh’s tryst with Franciso gets busted when his girlfriend suddenly pops up, so she’s forced to escape from his apartment by the backdoor in her bra and panties. She returns to their hotel and Gatsby tells him he saw her on TV with Francisco and she tries to assure him that nothing really happened between them. Obviously, Gatsby isn’t satisfied and realized they’re really mismatched. So he sends her back alone to Yardley while he stays in New York to meet with Chan once again.

The three young stars (Timothee, Elle and Selena) all give sparkling performances but it’s not enough to save the movie. Vittorio Storaro photographs New York City in all its idyllic beauty but the work of Allen here is more miss than hit. You get the feeling that you’ve seen it all before, the plush apartments, the usual pop references and the quick witty repartee, in other Allen films like “Annie Hall” and “Manhattan”, and he’s just repeating himself.

Allen even employs again his technique of using old songs and here, it’s a saving grace to listen to such classics as “I Got Lucky in the Rain”, “They Say It’s Wonderful”, “Red Sails in the Sunset”, “The Best Things in Life are Free”, “Misty”, “Gigi” and “Everything Happens to Me” which Timothee himself sings while accompanying himself on the piano. Compared with the best of Allen’s films before, this one is well acted but definitely run of the mill, filled with his recycled ideas.

Publication Source :    People's Journal
Mario Bautista
Former member: Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (Urian)