Friday, March 4, 2011

Everyone Says I Love You

I'm trying to disentangle my loathing of the musical form from my criticism of Woody Allen. It's almost impossible. I mean, I get the whole suspension of disbelief thing which seems natural to a Woody Allen film. But that doesn't mean I have to like it. But even if I were to disregard the music entirely (which you really can't do; it's not a topical ointment), I still don't think I would have really liked this movie.

There aren't any strong characters. Everyone seemes to be filmed obliquely. I don't think I once saw the narrator's face straight on. Edward Norton is miscast as a sort of Woody Allen impersonator. Natalie Portman just stands in the background eating sandwiches.

There's a lot of puddle jumping from New York to Paris to Italy for no real reason except to provide exotic backgrounds.

It's not very romantic. Granted, there's always a boy-loses-girl moment in the RomCom formula. But when Drew Barrymore leaves Edward Norton for an excon, even if it was compulsive and ill-planned, she gives a pretty good reason for not being with Norton: he's a gerbil. So that when boy gets girl back, it seems disingenuous. And then there is Woody Allen's seduction of Julia Roberts. He uses information she confided to her psychiatrist to fake his way into her fantasies. And it works. But he doesn't really love her and she doesn't love him, so of course it doesn't last. No relationship really ends up perfectly like in your typical RomCom. I guess for that I can be grateful. But it's just odd that the romantic climax of the movie is Woody kissing his ex-wife who is remarried. Despite all the earmarks of the musical romantic comedy, it never fully is one.

There were a few moments where the format of the musical actually enhanced the humor, like when the homeless bum started singing or the guy in the wheelchair was dancing. So I think I liked the ideas of the movie's premise (which I'm not thoroughly convinced were intentional). Subverting the musical romantic comedy with an imperfect ending and unexpected, maybe even self-contradictory elements. But actually having to watch it made my nose bleed.

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