Annie Hall simply chronicles the relationship Alvy Singer had with Annie Hall, using a different structure of storytelling as he proceeded. He would jump into the past, telling his life story and past relationships, often breaking the fourth wall with the audience and sometimes with the characters of the film. He told the story of their ups and downs as a couple, noting the differences between the two as the relationship progressed.
Allen pictures relationships as it is: they’re not perfect. There are happy times, and there are times where you’re both just frustrated at each other and in need of a change in scenery. He doesn’t try to get away with anything using grand gestures, or romantic scenes, but rather roots the story in everyday, normal people life. The characters don’t talk about anything prolific or significant, but it’s the manner of conversation, or the topics they end up talking about that provides fuel to the film. In the end, it turns to be a character study, particularly the personalities of Alvy Singer and Annie Hall.
I guess the disillusionment with the characters is part of the film’s charm. I could not get attached to the idea of Alvy Singer and Annie Hall, both as a couple and as people. They’re both as real as it gets; they’re not written to be quirky, they’re written to embody actual people. I’ve found Alvy Singer to be an insufferable person, always deeming his opinion to be the absolute truth. He’s always looking for the right kind of girl - he wants someone to be sexually available and to be intellectual and witty, but doesn’t want it to be too much. Which is why even if he was so confident that his relationship with Annie was going to work, based on his traits alone it was not. He’s trying to closet Annie to be someone he wants her to be - sexually available when he wants her to be, and an intellectual to converse with, but not too intelligent that her knowledge encompasses his. Annie seems to be a creative soul who doesn’t know what she wants so she allows herself to be encapsulated and yet yearns for her independence. It was hard to care for any of them, which I think also has a good side because you’re able to rifle through their relationship without being inclined to take a side. Performance-wise, I think both were naturals that they don’t seem to be acting.
The reason why I’m not giving this a perfect score is because I feel so detached to it that I don’t really care what happens to the characters. Film has always given the notion that it doesn’t paint reality so accurately, and those who do that still provide pieces of their characters or writing, or editing, or any piece that will allow the audience to feel anything about it. While the detachment gives great points to the film, it does make it seem robotic, and without charm or charisma.
Final word: I would definitely recommend this film for its style, but if you’re looking for any attachment, wonder, whatsoever, this might not be the film for you.
Cast: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts
Director: Woody Allen