Thursday, February 17, 2011

Manhattan Murder Mystery

This may be sticking a dagger into the short ribs of all my future Woody Allen reviews, but Manhattan Murder Mystery may very well be his last perfect film.

Woody Allen and Diane Keaton (Diane Keaton!) play a middle-aged couple who meet their older neighbors and begin to worry that they are becoming boring. So when the neighbor's wife ends up dead, Diane Keaton obsesses over the idea that it is murder. "I don't need a murder to enliven my life," Woody says. Because he doesn't want to go along, Keaton confides in the recently single Alan Alda who does nothing but encourage her.

What starts as a crazy idea becomes more and more serious until a mystery actually does unravel.

I love this movie because it is perfectly paced, it's really funny and it isn't overwrought. It still has all of the archetypal Woody Allen tropes, but it plays them at their best. And at the end it pays homage to Orson Welles' The Lady from Shanghai while that movie is playing. Five stars.

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