Wednesday, 12 August 2009

REVIEW: Whatever Works

Woody Allen certainly has a work ethic. Whilst many directors fifty years his junior release films every three to four years, Allen burns out one a year, sometimes more so. But the more frequent his films become, the more incomplete they feel. Sure there have been some recent exceptions, some would go to bat for Vicky Cristina Barcelona being his best film in twenty years, I feel that all of Allen's recent works share the same attributes, relatively big names, good performances, cynicism through the teeth and underwritten scripts. Sometimes the acting is good enough to make the last in the list matter less, sometimes not. Whatever Works falls into the latter category notching itself up as one of the increasing amount of Allen misfires.

The plot sees Boris Yellnikoff (Larry David) a physicist misanthrope who spends his days criticizing anything and everything in regards to politics, the human condition and anything really. He meets Melodie Celestine (Evan Rachel Wood), a young Texas runaway on the street and the inevitable happens, they fall in implausible love. Then Melodie's mother turns up and the film loses its coherency completely. At first the film appears to be about David's character, but pretty much once Patricia Clarkson arrives as Wood's evangelical mother, it becomes inevitable that this film is going to suck. This isn't Clarkson's fault, she s good enough and it may not be her best performance but it is OK. Evan Rachel Wood is also impressive, playing her southern ditz much, much better then Allen wrote her. Credit to her, and if she can find a good lead role she could really establish herself as a next big thing. But the film is most notable for its casting of Larry David, the genius behind Curb Your Enthusiasm and Seinfeld, who has previously to this has only ever played himself. I think David holds his own here, and prevents the film from being a total disaster. He's a good fit for the cynicism of Woody Allen, and its a shame he didn't turn up in a better film. Because its Allen's script that lets the thing down really. It feels rushed, it feels lazy, and altogether second rate for a man can definitely do better. But when you make films at the speed that Allen does, its is almost pre-destined that a large number are going to be crap. Its a shame, because David deserves better. Anyway Curb Your Enthusiasm series 7 in september, set your Tivo's.

Rating: 5/10

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