Annie Hall was 1977’s Best Picture winner at the Oscars. I don’t think it should have been. It was a solid movie for sure, but I couldn’t buy the movie as the best film of 1977. While Woody Allen’s Bananas was a screwball comedy, this film does mark Allen’s most mature film up to this point. The comedy is still there, but the movie is deeper than in Allen’s previous efforts. Allen cited advancing age for his more philosophical views (as he turned forty in 1975 which gave him strong opinions about death.) These philosophical views involves what it means to be romantic, Jewish heritage, the ideas of getting older, the banality of life, and of course as in most Allen’s film, a love story to the great city of New York. It also has been told that the movie resembles the personal life of Woody Allen. I wouldn’t find that surprising because he did date the star of the film, Diane Keaton at one point. I thoroughly enjoyed the philosophical views that Allen had in the film.
That also comes to the crux of my problems I had with the film. All the philosophy is fine and dandy, but people don’t realize how much this film is talking. People call this film a masterpiece, but they fail to see that this film is 121 minutes of talking and walking. I was mesmerized by Allen’s incredible dialogue, but eventually the talk wore me out (which is hard to do). This is a major issue, but luckily for the film it was the only issue I had. Too much talk, but the words were incredibly fluid thanks to the thoughtful script by Allen. There are some memorable monologues, and I liked how Allen spoke to the camera. It is rare for a movie to have an actor speak to the camera in a successful way, but Allen made it work here. He created a romantic comedy that made people laugh, and also made people cry. It represented more of a mature side to him that people seldom saw before this. Sure his screwball antics are still here, but his maturity level was elevated by several notches.
Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) is a neurotic stand-up comedian who reflects on the demise of his last relationship. He dated a woman named Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) who was an aspiring nightclub singer. Alvy reflects over the good times and bad times over the course of their relationship and also on factors that caused this relation to happen. He talks about growing up near C0ney Island, how he had sexual desires from a very young age, and how he always felt guilty about his Jewish heritage growing up.
I’ve seen this movie twice. The first time, it took awhile for me to appreciate Woody Allen’s acting in this film. This time, I was instantly brought in to the story by his inner monologue. Allen is essentially playing himself with lots of rapid intellectual dialogue. But I enjoyed watching him piece out the information on why his relationship failed. I really did like how be added depth to his character. He may be funny, but it’s not all about the comedy this time around. Diane Keaton, whom we know from The Godfather, does very well in her role. Her character is somewhat based off herself she admitted. Her character is shy, insecure at times, but she’s sweet and honest. There are some good supporting roles here too. We get to see a young Christopher Walken as Annie’s brother Duane. We see two other women that Alvy got into relationships with and they were performed decently from Carol Kane and Shelley Duvall. Also, there are two blink-or-you-miss cameos in the film. Keep any eye out for Jeff Goldblum and Signourey Weaver!
Overall, I enjoyed watching what is probably Woody Allen’s most personal movie. He later admitted he was not happy with the film because it was not the film he intended to make. But that didn’t stop critics and audiences alike all around the world from calling Annie Hall the best movie of 1977. Unfortunately, I do not share that sentiment. I do, however, think this film is a good watch. It’s funny at times, but it is also a thoughtful film. I would even call it a semi-experimental film. It’s a film that you need to pay utmost attention to or you’ll be lost. The story is not linear because there are mnay flashbacks spread throughout. Only Woody Allen could create enough witty and strong dialogue where you wouldn’t need action to complement those words. For that reason alone, this film is deserving of its Best Screenplay Oscar win. This movie is a solid watch thanks to a strong, intelligent screenplay and very strong performances from Woody Allen and Diane Keaton. However, it falls short from the masterpiece everyone claims it to be.
My Grade: B