A Rainy Day in New York


‘…just isn’t in the same league as Allen’s best work…’


I’m reviewing Woody Allen’s latest film at the third attempt; the pernicious influence of cancel culture was my reason for pulling the review before publication on two other occasions last year. Of course, I’ve got no insider knowledge whatsoever as to whether Allen deserves the current resistance to his work; this isn’t a case like Weinstein or Spacey where everyone in the industry and their dog in the street had heard the same kind of story from multiple sources. The bottom line is that it’s not possible for me as a reviewer to vouch for the on and off-camera behaviour of the crew on every film I review. Films should be assessed on their merits, and A Rainy Day in New York is neither Allen’s best or worst.

The cast are young and personable; Gatsby Welles (Timothy Chalamet) and his girlfriend Ashleigh (Elle Fanning) are planning a day in Manhattan, since she has to interview big-shot film director Roland Pollard (Liev Schreiber). That interview takes her off on a wild-goose chase involving screenwriter Ted Davidoff (Jude Law) and handsome star Francisco Vega (Diego Luna), while Gatsby mopes around, smoking cigarettes and hanging out with some old pals. Gatsby strikes sparks with Chan Tyrell (Selena Gomez); will the couple re-unite at a party thrown by Gatsby’s mum, or has the Manhattan scene put a spoke in their relationship by offering up alternative partners?

Elements of La Ronde abound here, and Allen’s affection for NYC is well conveyed; there’s some beautiful shots of street-life, and some shards of the wit that’s the hallmark of Allen’s best films, or at least his early funny ones. But the characterisation is shallow, and there’s far to many Allen surrogates in the story, three by my count. Even though the journey is fairly entertaining, the punch-line, involving Gatsby’s mother’s past, is a severe downer; something seems to have soured in Allen’s worldview for this to be the pay-off. This isn’t the all-encompassing, compassionate view of Hannah and her Sisters; having shown such maturity early in Allen’s canon, there seems like nowhere for him to go.

Allen has made three substantial and lauded films in the last decade; Midnight in Paris, Blue Jasmine and Café Society. That would be a purple patch for most directors, but for Allen, the slew of meh fillers around them suggests a decline, and A Rainy Day in New York just isn’t in the same league as Allen’s best work. With shrill, unlikable characters of both sexes, but particularly negative female portraits, this is a sour, yet still caustic and spiky snapshot of the romantic problems of the well-off Manhattan elite.

A Rainy Day in New York is 99p on Amazon Prime in the UK

Thanks to Signature for access to this title.


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  1. I agree with all of that, it’s a pleasant, lightweight film, beautifully shot but thin. The script felt underdeveloped and the film felt under-rehearsed. But, like many Woody Allen films, it still has its moments.

    I would still count myself as a Woody Allen fan (recently resurfaced personal allegations aside), but when compared to his outstanding sequence of films from the late seventies to the early nineties, his more recent films have been very patchy, the occasional very good film surrounded by many mediocre movies. But I still watch them, even if the magic is diluted.

    I put together my thoughts on this one here, if you’re interested:

  2. Never seen any of his movies since I gave up a third of the way into Annie Hall. I didn’t like him before you were supposed to not like him, and am sure he’s made great movies, just not anything that floats my boat. Long Nope. In spite of Charmalot and Shrieber being in it as they do float my boat.

  3. I’m going to skip this one. Even Allen’s best work has never resonated with me. I can sort of recognize the genius in it, but his films just weren’t made for me.

    I too am of the camp that art can be separated from its maker. Many artists are terrible people for one reason or another (some more severe than other) and I’m (perhaps selfishly) just not willing to give up all the films, novels, and paintings I love produced by (alleged) assholes.

    • Oddly, this one might work better for non-Allen fans, but I have to say there’s something askew with the portrayal of women here. Having got that out of my system, I think MeToo is an important and hopefully lasting moments that will highlight and shame those (predominantly men) who exploit their position in the industry. I can’t honestly shoe-horn Allen into that category. But he just doesn’t get a free pass because of his past successes; this film falls short as art, and that’s a shame, but it’s more than watchable because of Allen’s talent.

  4. While his best is likely behind him and he’s long been creating a “woody allen” formula film for a couple of decades, there are still better moments in his films than in basically any other movies. And like Chris Rock said, he’s got maybe a dozen GREAT films and the rest are still really good, full of recognizable flawed characters (we do tend to want our perfect super heroes) and cringeworthy situations that help us cope. Portnoy’s Complaint was not a book about someone we wanted to emulate- and for that reason it’s a classic. Woody himself is still married to that woman he helped raise and then married long ago . . . I don’t know and I don’t really need to!

    • Agreed on all points, I think. He’s been one of the world’s great film-makers, and there’s a wealth of great films. I generally don’t review films by people that I’ve heard bad things about (Polanski), but I’m probably over-cooking that reaction, and maybe I’m doing the same here. But over the last couple of years, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m reviewing the films and not the personal lives of those who make them, which isn’t something I know much about. I get that not everyone feels the same…

  5. Just based on the plot outline you provide this doesn’t sound like my sort of thing. Maybe if I was closer in age to the protagonists.

    Most directors, like most artists, only have a certain window of around ten years where they do all their major work. Allen’s was a while ago, in my opinion, but I haven’t been keeping up with his later stuff.

    • I think that’s a good point. These are young people, and Allen seems keen to talk about their world rather than his own. It’s just not quite convincing and his heart doesn’t seem to be in it…

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