‘Annie Hall’ frequently appears towards the top of Best Picture rankings. For me, it is the ultimate example of a film that you either get or you don’t, and personally, I don’t: at least not in the way that the film’s biggest fans do.
‘Annie Hall’ is essentially a romantic comedy. The film charts the relationship between Woody Allen’s characters (Alvie Singer) and Diane Keaton in the title role. Although the chronology is distorted we learn how they first met, how they moved in with each other and how the relationship came to an inevitable conclusion. Woody Singer’s character is essentially Woody Allen himself: a Jewish New Yorker obsessed with death and his religion, and Keaton plays a love interest who is much more of a conformist.
I can totally agree with the decision to award this film with a screenplay award, the script is clever, witty and full of intelligent laughs, and also highly original, and it is for this reason that the film should be watched.
I like Diane Keaton in this film and she puts in a strong performance. I actually generally do enjoy watching Keaton. Although her performances are often quite similar, she does possess excellent comic timing, and nowhere is this more evident than in this film. She has some wonderful moments: the conversation with the subtitles, the lobster scene… she is subtle but very good.
As an actor, Allen has never blown me away. He is a comic and a writer, but I don’t feel that he is an actor, and the character of Singer is a bit irritating. This is where my issue with film lies. I just do not buy the relationship. He is supposed to be this intellectual character, but he is so paranoid about everything that I am not convinced that she would be attracted to him. The film pushes us to think that they should be together (there are two contrasting scenes involving the aforementioned lobsters), but at no point do I find them a realistic couple that I can care about.
The film is big on techniques. There are subtitled sections to show what the characters are thinking, animated scenes and interaction between Allen and the camera, but not big acting performances and this is where I think it boils down to personal tense. For those who enjoy films big on method acting like ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ and ‘Suddenly Last Summer’ this film is not a natural favourite.
I seem to have already dismissed several films from the late 70s and early 80s. This is not because I think that films from this era are particularly bad, but I just think that the winners were not that spectacular. It’s ultimately due to personally choice, there will be people who think that ‘Forrest Gump’ is a brilliant film and those who cannot abide my number 1 film, and it’s personally choice that makes me place ‘Annie Hall’ not as high as many others. I think that there are goo moments in the film, but largely I find it to be slightly pretentious and not overly compelling cinema.