Friday, December 6, 2013

Movie Review - Manhattan (1979)

Isaac (Woody Allen) is an aspiring novelist that currently works writing for sitcoms.  He is currently dating Tracy, a 17 year old girl who is in love with him.  Isaac's best friend, Yale, has a mistress named Mary (Diane Keaton).  When Isaac meets Mary, feelings begin to emerge and relationships start to transition.

Isaac is fresh out of a divorce with Jill (Meryl Streep), his second ex-wife.  Jill left him for another woman, and she is in the process of publishing a book about all their experiences before the marriage and after.  After he meets his best friend Yale's mistress (Mary), he falls for her.  Constantly hinting to his teenage girlfriend Tracy that they won't last, Isaac hopes to find a way to court Mary.

The black and white cinematography of the film is expertly crafted and rich in contrast.  There are shots that are totally abstracted, with just highlights to give way to shapes and subjects.  There is a romance reflected in the images, along with some insecurity and mystery.

On the surface, Manhattan is a romantic melodrama about people drifting in and out of relationships for one reason or another.  Behind the story lies the characters dwelling in their past relationships.  Isaac is in constant hindsight of his former lovers, seeing clearly with appreciation of how great those times were while sabotaging the present.  His friend Yale is the same, not knowing how to see what he has in front of him until it ends.  No matter what they tell themselves, these two men are unable to deal with their current love, always yearning for something they had before.

Manhattan is available for stream on Netflix

Rated R for language


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