This transparently self-serving, thinly fictionalized film is Woody Allen's statement on the accusations of self-centeredness and scandalous impropriety leveled against him over the years, particularly since he began dating the adopted daughter of his
longtime lover. In essence, that position appears to be: "I'm a tortured artist, so I can't help behaving like a selfish schmuck, and who cares what a grotesque bunch of a hysterical harpies like you say anyway?" Think STARDUST MEMORIES, particularly the way it oozes contempt for the fans who take
Allen (or his fictional stand-in) at his word that he's an artiste. Aging novelist Harry Block (Allen) has just penned a nominally fictionalized account of his affair with Lucy (Judy Davis), the younger sister of his wife Jane (Amy Irving), both of whom he subsequently abandoned for dewy
literary groupie Fay (Elisabeth Shue). The furor the book causes among his former intimates leads Harry to consider his life of compulsive infidelity, and to complicate matters in a PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO sort of way, he encounters fictional versions of various wives, lovers and versions of himself.
You can't call this an apologia, since there's no indication that Harry/Woody thinks he has anything to be sorry for: Sure, Harry's done some despicable things, but he couldn't help it, and anyway it's not as if it's made him happy. Allen answers the criticism that his films take place in
the whitest world north of Antarctica by casting African-American actress Hazelle Goodman in a featured role, which unfortunately is that of vinyl-clad, happy hooker Cookie. The film's token Asian character is also a prostitute. Although the performances by the star-studded cast are generally
excellent, only Billy Crystal really manages to transcend the dour misery of Allen's script: His witty turn as a dapper Satan is a blessed relief from the neurotic gloom.
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- Released: 1997
- Rating: R
- Review: This transparently self-serving, thinly fictionalized film is Woody Allen's statement on the accusations of self-centeredness and scandalous impropriety leveled against him over the years, particularly since he began dating the adopted daughter of his lon… (more)