Woody Allen’s career continues on with draftsmen-like regularity. This latest addition to his opus is highly personal, exposing questions of mortality much in the same way his early films questioned meaning and love.
The script, while not nearly as strong as Midnight in Paris, is an intellectual, almost stage play, with echos of Noel Coward and Harold Pinter giving the story a unique feel. The joy of a script is so often secondary. Here it is front and center, but by design.
What has continued as strongly with his move to Europe is how Allen continues to remain invisible as a director. It is still very much an Allen film, but the bare moments of interchange that are his trademark are more subtle.
Stone (Birdman) and Firth (Gambit) almost work as leads, but each feels about two inches away from the real character. There is just something missing to push it over the top and make it sing. The transitions in emotion are too rapid. The decisions a bit forced. I think a bit more time spent on these areas at critical moments would have made the film more believable, but it ends up being just entertaining with little chance for longevity, despite some of its incredibly clever conceits and beautiful costumes and composition.
In the supporting cast, Atkins (Beautiful Creatures) and McBurney (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and Linklater (The Crazy Ones) round out the plot and fun. Each brings a typical Allen-esque character to the world for the main leads to bounce off.
This is far from Allen’s best, but it is a sweet and odd romantic comedy worth your time (whether you like Allen or not).