My rating: 10
IMDB rating: 8.2
IMDB link: Annie Hall
Alvy Singer: [addressing the camera] There’s an old joke – um… two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of ’em says, “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know; and such small portions.” Well, that’s essentially how I feel about life – full of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and unhappiness, and it’s all over much too quickly. The… the other important joke, for me, is one that’s usually attributed to Groucho Marx; but, I think it appears originally in Freud’s “Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious,” and it goes like this – I’m paraphrasing – um, “I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.” That’s the key joke of my adult life, in terms of my relationships with women.
I am starting and ending this post with quotes from the film, because I wish that I could memorise every single thing that is said in this film seeing that it is so honest and endearing that it speaks to both the neurotic and romantic inside of you.
You know how you read about a film again and again, and you just convince yourself that it simply cannot be as good as they make it out to be? Well, this film is nothing like that! I have been a Woody Allen fan from the first time that I saw Midnight in Paris. I fell in love with the way he not only sees the world, but with the intellectuality he uses to approach subjects such as love.
Then with his films To Rome With Love and Fading Gigolo I saw more of the original Woody Allen wit and I was mesmerised! Gathering up all my courage, I set out to watch Woody Allen’s most famous film and it made my year!
Relationships are hard, this Allen underlines again and again, and when you find that special somebody you have to hold on, right? What if you can’t? My favourite modern English writer, Elizabet Gilbert, says (describing soulmates): “A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.”
That, for me, is the case with Alvy and Annie. They are a perfect fit; Alvy opens Annie up intellectually, while Annie works on Alvy’s narcissism. The un-chronological timeline supports this idea that although you can see these two people are a good match, you know that on some level they are disconnected- the one always expecting more than the other one is willing to give.
I think that it is often true, and the film also speaks about this, that on a subconscious level we believe that our significant other should either make our faults disappear or overshadow them with their own good attributes. In reality, a relationship highlights our bad qualities, just as Alvy gets more neurotic and Annie gets more ditsy.
While giving the account of this (failed?) relationship, the camera often turns to Woody Allen where he addresses the audience directly. He pleads with them to understand, to get them on his ‘side’. Still, and that is how brilliantly the movie is made, you know the pleading is useless. You know he only has himself to blame and although the story is told from his perspective, he gives a very objective overview of the relationship.
I can understand why some people do not like this film. It speaks to a lot of the really personal things one experiences in a relationship and how you usually want a film like that to end is with a massive declaration of love, but that is not life. Most probably one will agree to stay friends and not see one another for years thereafter, but their impact will remain bigger than any of those that comes before or after them.
Alvy Singer: I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. That’s the two categories. The horrible are like, I don’t know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled. I don’t know how they get through life. It’s amazing to me. And the miserable is everyone else. So you should be thankful that you’re miserable, because that’s very lucky, to be miserable.
Want to read more on Annie Hall? Try these…
Roger Ebert: Annie Hall
Review: Annie Hall, Woody Allen’s Best Movie Ever.
Annie Hall ★★★★.
Annie Hall (1977).