Annie Hall

AFI Rank: #31
Year Released: 1977
Director: Woody Allen
Actors: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton

There are movies known for their intense war scenes and eardrum-shattering action. Then there are movies that delve into a different area - into the ups and downs of a real life relationship. Annie Hall is subtle in its investigations, and you have to close up the laptop, put away the distractions, and really allow yourself to get swept away by this one to catch the numerous little things that are so true to life.

Allen and Keaton are both, in many ways, playing themselves. Allen adores New York, is a bit paranoid and self-conscious, and he falls for the sweetness of Keaton, who in her own way is just as lost. Their starting moments are as shy and nervous as many of us have encountered a few times in life. The subtitles are great, helping show the oh-so-common disconnect between the things we say and what we're really thinking.

No relationship goes smooth. They have the first kiss, the walks along the water, the break-ups, the fear of spiders, the meeting of the families. They run into racist family members, tough job situations, and along the way both of them grow and change. This isn't a stagnant relationship. The way they change is part of the joy here. We get to see them mature and broaden their horizons, sometimes with good results, sometimes with a step back.

My boyfriend's a born-and-bred New Yorker and he cringed when Keaton ordered the pastrami on white with mayo. There are just so many little touches like that, things that resonate with people who have lived and loved New York. There are brilliant angles on the LA culture - from Allen's point of view of course - including Jeff Goldblum sighing into the phone that he's "forgotten his mantra". What tragedy!

I do have to comment that is just staggering to me that this movie all about relationships - and who is supposedly featuring Annie Hall as the main character - only ONCE has two women talk directly to each other. And that's for about 2 seconds, when Annie's family is sharing the screen with Allen's family. Annie's mom asks Allen's mom what they do for the holidays and Allen's mom replies, "we fast". That's it!! The entire movie, and that's the only moment where two women talk with each other. Everything else is about Allen talking to various people around him. It goes to show how fully we as an audience have come to expect that women are the supporting cast to the men.

Still, a lot of great insights here, and a love story not only to Annie, but also to New York City.

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