Directed by: Woody Allen
Premise: A love story about a neurotic man (Woody Allen) who falls in love with a spacey woman (Diane Keaton). The film tracks the ups and downs of their relationship.
What Works: Annie Hall is a seminal film both in Woody Allen’s filmography and in the romantic comedy genre. Originally released in 1977, a lot of the conventions of the romantic comedy had already been long established and were well worn by the time Woody Allen made this film, but Annie Hall took the genre in a different direction. The film is very much a Woody Allen picture and it is told in Allen’s fast talking, glib style and it combines a traditional narrative film with a stand up routine as Allen’s character steps out to address the audience. The film is able to capitalize on both elements, using the advantages of narrative to create character arcs and play out the film’s observations through drama and also use the stand-up content to deepen the observations and the characters. As a film within the romantic comedy genre, Annie Hall carves out its own niche by starting its story well before the romance begins and following through the rise and fall of the couple’s relationship. The film is able to make a lot of observations about courtship, sexuality, and the power dynamics within relationships and the tone slides quite effortlessly between very funny and very sad.
What Doesn’t: Annie Hall is a film of its time, filmed and edited in a style that was avant-garde when it was made. That might not be as apparent to today’s viewers. Although the humor of the film holds up, the style, with its long takes and dialogue heavy gags, is much simpler and less flashy than a lot of contemporary films.
DVD extras: None.
Bottom Line: Annie Hall is an important film both within the romantic comedy genre and within Woody Allen’s body of work. It is also a very funny film that makes keen observations about romance and relationships.
Episode: #251 (August 16, 2009)