The association of Woody Allen with New York dates back to his first feature film in 1965. Sticking to this picturesque city for filming appealing rom-coms, the success of his Annie Hall(1977) and Manhattan(1979) took his cinema to places. Later he steered his filming locations towards the artistic aura of Europe with Match Point(2005), and continued portraying the alluring European cities for a decade, as a backdrop to his distinct “Allen” genre. His cinematic return to the States got checked with Irrational Man(2015), to finally settle at the bustling New York again in his last movie – Wonder Wheel(2017). As appealing as “Woody Allen is filming again in New York” may sound, most of what is witnessed on-screen feels half-baked though shot exotically. The same holds true with his latest 2019 release.
‘A Rainy Day in New York’ is again an ‘Allen being Allen’ movie – two visionary souls sharing their perspectives about art, world, and life while walking across the splendidly shot serene locations, as a suitable track plays in the background. Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro has shot the never disappointing New York City here with a classic vintage touch – so we see the characters sit in carriage rides as they pass through Central Park, or play the cocktail piano at the Carlyle hotel. Somehow, there is enough sunshine peeping through the windows as it rains outside on the streets. Nevermind. All this keeps on happening with no apparent purpose, and the fan I’m of the storyteller Woody feels underwhelmed perpetually.
As obvious from the title, the two prime manipulators of the narrative are Rain(little of it) and NYC, where two young people in a lovey relationship arrive to spend a weekend. An obvious string of misadventures happens with them be it together or alone, and that’s it. Not that Allen movies have always been plot-heavy – it’s always the dialogues and cast that cast their spell. Allen’s dialogues sadly emerge a spoilsport(a rare case) – with a lot of ‘meh’ pretenses masqueraded as punches for a silly forced laugh, or the philosophy of the young generation’s love. Keeping in mind how every soul is different, I can still safely endorse that ‘A Rainy Day in New York’ got most of the deep love-philosophy conversations wrong.
The cast like every Allen movie is uber-talented, surfacing as the umbrella here to shelter the movie against the downpour of exhausting screenwriting. The charmer Timothée Chalamet seamlessly oozes out the confused emotions of the hopeless romantic Gatsby Welles, who can play a piano to poker. Gatsby is dating Ashleigh Enright(Elle Fanning), an aspiring journalist major hailing from Arizona. Fanning excels in her part, justifying all the nonsensical actions of her underwritten but overexcited Ashleigh. She lands an interview with her idol – a film director Roland Pollard (an extremely confident Liev Schreiber). Like most of the artists, he too is suffering from an existential crisis.
What follows is an age-inappropriate romance – again, such an Allen thing to do. Besides Roland, she gets further involved the same day with two more elder men – Ted Davidoff (Jude Law, who well-plays somewhat Woody Allen himself), and a casanova actor Francisco Vega (Diego Luna looks good and acts well). Meanwhile, Gatsby sets off on the streets of Manhattan and ends up starring in a friend’s short film – where he has to kiss Shannon (Selena Gomez), the younger sister of his ex. Weird dynamics? The character arcs are even worse – just in sync with the movie’s weather. Selena gets the saner part and does the better acting among the two actresses, though struggling for adorable chemistry with Chalamet.
Well, these shortcomings could have been passed, but it gets overboard this time. Timothée as Gatsby is the only intriguing part, having my sympathy as his comic tragedy gets narrated with an obvious Allen-genre voiceover. His piano-playing sequences look genuinely convincing, especially when he plays and sings the ‘Everything Happens to Me’ song by Chet Baker. A pointless sequence feat. Gatsby talking to his snooty ignorant school friend(Ben Warheit) – his idea of laughter is to link the name “Ashleigh” to “Ashley Wilkes” from “Gone With the Wind”. This is just bizarre, not my kind of first-world humour.
Having been always an admirer of Allen’s escapist cinema, ‘A Rainy Day in New York’ leaves me sad with the realization of its weirdly inconsequential approach to escapism. Despite ticking all the boxes of an Allen movie, the eventual product is hazy. Allen seems completely out of touch with this generation, as the movie misses more than it hits in a runtime of 92 minutes. The adept cast does everything as supposed across the cramped streets and motels of New York, but the big picture is wetted by the heavy downpour of outlandish writing, getting it gloomy beyond redemption.
Watch its Trailer here: A Rainy Day in New York (2019) Trailer | YouTube
Also Read: Parasite (2019) Review | A bluntly personified multi-genre portrait of classism
Also Read: Chhapaak (2020) Review | A soul-stirring splash of soaring acts amidst ambitious storytelling
Also Read: Joker (2019) Review | All I have are positive thoughts
Also Read: The Irishman (2019) Review | Watch Scorsese paint a tranquil tale with his favorites
Also Read: Ad Astra (2019) Review | An engrossing exploration of inner self amidst outer space