director Woody Allen
As I’ve noted, overall, Woody Allen doesn’t really do it for me. But when he films a movie in my town, San Francisco, I’m intrigued enough to queue it up. I liked the last film of his I saw, Midnight in Paris (2011), had no interest in To Rome with Love (2012).
Allen’s been on a bit of a world tour over the past few years after a career so closely linked with New York City. Spain, France, Italy, and now San Francisco. Now I don’t know Barcelona, Paris, or Rome, so I can’t take the sort of critical local’s eye on those films, but in SF, it would be hard not to.
The film is more famous for its A Streetcar Named Desire-like story and its Oscar nominated (and won in the Best Actress case) for Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins. Also, it was known for its controversy around Allen’s alleged child molestation accusations from his ex-wife Mia Farrow and her daughter. The controversy had nothing to really do with the film, more to do with Allen and who he is and whether his films should be considered for awards because of alleged crimes. To many’s surprise, Blanchett landed the Best Actress award. She may well have deserved it.
Blanchett and Hawkins are both good in the film. Allen has always had a knack for creating good roles for actors and actresses. “Oscar”had long liked his movies and the performances they contain.
The movie is good. It actually felt less like a Woody Allen movie to me than many others of his that I’ve seen. He’s not in the film and the comedy is a bit more muted overall. So, it doesn’t even “sound” as much like a Woody Allen movie as others can and do.
As for the San Francisco of the film, it’s nice that it’s not all the obvious locations of the city that show up. But the real issue is the San Franciscans of the film. Sally Hawkins’ character hangs with a blue collar crowd, her ex-husband played by Andrew “Dice” Clay and current boyfriend, “Chili” played by Bobby Cannavale are sort of New York stereotypes transposed onto California. The actors are fine but their characters seem utterly out of place. And that I found distracting and annoying.
So, it’s a mixed bag, my reaction. I’ve always liked Blanchett. She has a lovely, fascinating face and she is a good actress. So there is always that.