Friday, January 06, 2006
Love Woody Allen
While Match Point won't bump The Squid and the Whale out of my top ten, it is a crackling good movie. I wouldn't have told you that as I walked out of the theater, though. In fact, when my friend C-girl asked if I liked it, I said, "Eh."
I hadn't read any press on the film before seeing it, which I think would've helped give me some perspective. All I had heard was, "Woody's back!" Leaving the theater, I wondered, "How did they recognize him?" There were very few trademarks of the Woodman readily evident in the film. None of the whiz-bang wit, none of the staccato Allen dialogue stylings. It felt like a tony version of "Fatal Attraction." Very glossy, very stylish, very well-acted, very well-written, but very predictable (except for a fun reverse twist in the last 20 minutes) and vaguely depressing. It felt like any director could've made it. I couldn't figure out why Woody Allen would want to tell such a ordinary love triangle tale about such unlikeable people. Even the nicer ones are made annoying with their weak backbones and quickness to sweep reality under a fine Persian rug.
Over the next 24 hours, I mulled it over. What was Woody trying to say? Had he just become a cynic--ready to make a commercial film to please the nail-biting masses with a palatable serving of silver screen thrills? Did he really think so little of mankind to portray them in such an unappealing, though very well-groomed, way? Then it began to click. This was a very biting social satire about the selfish and the shallow. I'm a little embarassed how long it took me to figure that out. I blame it on the subtly of the storytelling, which is part of what makes the satire even more eviscerating in hindsight. Those who it is aimed at will walk out oblivious, yet satisfied. Oh, that Woody. Such a clever little devil.