Everyone Says I Love You
Dir: Woody Allen
Constantly spinning new variations on his favourite themes, Woody Allen this time takes on the musical.
The neuroses of the wealthy, the complexity of relationships, and a nostalgic yearning for the past are themes that Woody Allen returns to often, and in this sense, 'Everyone Says I Love You' is a typical Woody Allen film. What is not so typical is that the characters frequently break into song.
This is certainly not a film to take too seriously. As it flits between New York, Venice and Paris, it is hard to get too concerned at the stresses of its jetsetting characters.
But that's not really the point.
Whereas last night's 'Crimes and Misdemeanors' was a film that was surely designed to make the audience wonder what life is all really about, 'Everyone Says I Love You' does the opposite. It's message is to get out and enjoy life because 'it's later than you think'. In one scene we are told this directly by a singing and dancing troupe of ghosts.
Yes, in this film even death is something to be taken lightly.
And of course, in this aim, Woody Allen understands the concept of the classic musical. At the end of 'Purple Rose of Cairo', Cecilia finally escapes her dire situation by watching 'Top Hat' with Astaire and Rogers. 'Top Hat' was made in 1935, at the tail end of the great American depression.
The public wanted to escape from their problems, and the classic movies showed a different world - a world of rich, beautiful, elegant people, travelling to exotic and beautiful places.
There is of course some gentle satire, poking fun at the 'liberalism' of the wealthy characters. There is a wonderful scene where Goldie Hawn visits a prison and gives a speech to the wardens telling them that to rehabilitate the prisoners, they should be given the chance to design and do the interior decoration of their cells.
And, while the film presents the world with a wonderful gloss, far from reality, there is also a sense of nostalgia. When Woody Allen's character dances with his ex-wife, Goldie Hawn, the message is perhaps that we should cherish the past and all its treasures, but that we cannot return to it.
It is an extraordinary cast that Allen gathers together - Alan Alda, Goldie Hawn, Ed Norton, Tim Roth, Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman, Billy Crudup and Drew Barrymore.
What's also interesting is that the actors all used their own singing voices, and some of them really can't sing that well.
Some reviewers found that a bit disturbing, and yet once again the message is to simply go along with the exuberance. (It is said that none of the cast knew it was a musical until they had signed their contracts).
Woody Allen has made over forty films, and picking a selection of only five has of course been a dangerous task. Many of the classics, and all of the early films have been excluded (although 'Sleeper' played in our opening week of the club).
Some would question whether 'Everyone Says I Love You' is really one of Allen's finer films, but I think what emerges from this week's line-up is that Allen's work is much more diverse than many would think. 'Everyone Says I Love You'
is great evidence of this diversity.
The other thing that has become clear is that this leaves the door wide open to a second series of Woody Allen films in the future... and maybe a third... and a fourth...