Woody Allen even more bland than usual

A Rainy Day in New York. Movie review.

Review of the movie A Rainy Day in New York

With his 2019 movie A Rainy Day in New York, Woody Allen confirms that he just cannot rise above the boring predictability of his uninspired formula, repeated so many times in his movies. He was smart not to be in it, since the actors are the victims of his failure.

Ever Young. Supernatural fiction by Stefan Stenudd. Ever Young
Supernatural fiction by Stefan Stenudd
Caroline meets those who do not age, and this ability can be transmitted. But there are grisly downsides. Click the image to see the book at Amazon (paid link).

       Woody Allen has never impressed me, with the possible exception of Radio Days. His films are just long stand-up comedy monologues masquerading as stories. He tries to be intellectual as well as funny, failing at both. As Shakespeare put it: much ado about nothing.

       A Rainy Day in New York is no exception to this rule, not even a prominent example of it. It falls flat on the very first scene and never manages to get up again. This little love story is plain ridiculous. So plain, and so ridiculous. The dialogue is awkwardly artificial, the plot silly and boringly predictable, and the characters are superficial caricatures. The film's only advantage is that it is just an hour and a half — but to quote the main character, the time flies coach.

       I pity the actors. They have no support from the script or the direction, both of which are as usual Woody Allen's. Timothée Chalamet, who plays the lead, suffers the most. His character is named Gatsby, which is close to sacrilege, considering how small this thing is compared to F. Scott Fitzgerald's legendary novel. This Gatsby is nothing but a young version of Woody Allen, with the same attitude and chatter. Unfortunately, that is also how Chalamet tries to play the role. It can't but fail.

       Chalamet has more than once played a troubled adolescent, akin to Goethe's young Werther, and he has done it splendidly. But in this movie his young body behaves and speaks like a middle-aged cynic. It just doesn't work, especially since the story told is childishly simple.

       He is not the only actor succumbing to the shortcomings of Woody Allen's script and direction. They are all helpless in this situation, with one exception that stands out as sharply as if belonging to a completely different movie: Cherry Jones, who plays Gatsby's mother, has a monologue of a few minutes close to the end. With her, a character of depth and magnitude finally appears, and it is mainly due to the authority and skill of the actor. At least, Allen had the wisdom to leave her to it.

Cherry Jones in A Rainy Day in New York.

       It is a key scene, the turning point of the movie. If there was a certain ingredient in the story that compelled Woody Allen to write it, it must have been what this scene contains and reveals. But it is so different from the rest of the movie, the scene does not succeed in making sense of it all. Allen should have formed the whole story around that scene, instead of putting it there as sort of an excuse for the banalities preceding it.

       In addition to Cherry Jones' performance, the cinematography of Vittorio Storaro is very enjoyable. Manhattan exteriors and interiors are shown in charming sceneries, and the rain of the film's title certainly adds to that charm.

Stefan Stenudd
January 30, 2021

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Stefan Stenudd

Stefan Stenudd

About me
I'm a Swedish author of fiction and non-fiction books in both English and Swedish. I'm also an artist, a historian of ideas, and a 7 dan Aikikai Shihan aikido instructor. Click the header to read my full bio.