RETRO REVIEW: Annie Hall

By: Emily Kellas
Rating: 9 out of 10

In celebration of the upcoming Academy awards, and in the spirit of Valentines Day this week I am taking a look at one of America’s most treasured romances, the 1977 Academy award Best Picture winner, Annie Hall. The film stars Diane Keaton, and Woody Allen, who pulls double duty as star and director.  Annie Hall has arguably become Allen’s most memorable film, as well as, a love story that remains as relevant today as it was 34 years ago.

Annie Hall is the classic boy meets girl story with a few neurotic tweaks. Alvy Singer (Allen) is a New York City comedian who goes on a journey through his memory in order to figure out why his relationship with Annie Hall (Keaton) ended the way it did.

This film could have simply disappeared into the murky abyss of generic romantic comedies but something has kept it bobbing at the surface. Allen’s use of flashbacks, animation, as well as, breaking the proverbial “fourth wall” (talking directly to the camera or audience) creates a unique movie experience. Shot during the late 70’s Annie Hall captures the rapidly changing attitudes of love and sex that characterized the turbulent period in New York City. One of Allen’s strengths is shooting his beloved New York in a way that truly comes across the screen as beautifully eclectic, while at the same time intrinsically universal.

Those technical aspects aside, the film is refreshingly cynical about love and relationships while putting a humorous spin on it all. The on-screen chemistry between Allen and Keaton is oddly electric for a couple who share in each others awkward neurosis. The acting is superb as Allen reprises his now famous personae as the nervous, paranoid, at times whinny, New Yorker who somehow through humor and charm captivates the heart of a young attractive, usually somewhat eccentric woman. Diane Keaton’s performance as Annie Hall is, arguably, one of her best. Charming, beautiful, and at times self deprecating Keaton equals Allen in humor, and intelligence.

With all of those wonderful elements combined and considered, perhaps the most intriguing feature of the film is its ending. Though I won’t give it away, the film manages to take the typical romantic comedy ending, change it, and leave the audience satisfied and coming back for more. If you are looking for a romance that is unlike any other, Annie Hall is a burst of fresh New York air, as it steps out of the romantic comedy box, and turns it on its head. In the grand tradition of “It Happened One Night” Annie Hall opened a new realm of romantic film, and continues to cynically give hope to both men and women still searching the world for their own odd love story.

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