Wednesday, November 18, 2009


WHATEVER WORKS is Woody Allen decoupage. You watch a bunch of his film and cut out and assemble the familiar characters and themes. First, you take a Woody Allen cipher, played in his younger days by Allen, and now by Larry "Curb Your Enthusiasm" David. Second, you have that character be cynical about life, and to talk about his cynicism incessantly to his friends, random strangers and, breaking the fourth wall, to the audience. Third, you have the Allen character meet and, rather improbably, have a sexual relationship with, a nubile young girl. It started with Mariel Hemingway in MANHATTAN but we now get a surprisingly charismatic and fascinating Evan Rachel Wood. Fourth, you have all the characters fall in and out of love and talk about charmingly in a series of rather lovely autumnal New York scenes. Finally, you have the cynical old know-it-all realise that the young flibbertigibbet was really on to something when she said, "you gotta have a little faith in people". The End. The only real difference in WHATEVER WORKS is that the old lech and the young idiot actually get married in an implausible turn of events that seems like a desperate plea for understanding by a writer-director who's marriage to his much younger adopted daughter has been ill-received.

Larry David is just about watchable even when he's trying to shoe-horn his schtick into the Woody Allen straitjacket. As I said, Evan Rachel Wood acts just about everyone off the screen. Patricia Clarkson and Ed Begley Junior are just fine as the parents who come to get their daughter back, but end up being transformed by the magical mystery powers of New York. Henry Cavill is rather flat and anonymous as the younger man. All's well that end's well, I suppose, but the whole film feels rather warmed over and re-hashed - like a Muzack cover of a Greatest Hit.

Where's the provocation of CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS? Where's the genuine heartbreak of ANNIE HALL? Where's the fizzy subversion of VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA?

Eventual tags: woody allen, comedy, evan rachel wood, larry david, harris savides, patricia clarkson, henry cavill, ed begley jr, conleth hill, michael mckean

WHATEVER WORKS was released earlier this year in the USA, Canada, France, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Australia, Hong Kong, and Finland. It is currently on release in Brazil and Estonia. It opens on November 27th in Iceland. It opens in Germany on December 3rd and in Russia on December 31st. It does not have a UK release date but is available on Region 1 DVD.

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