A Rainy Day in New York

 

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Completed in 2018, Woody Allen’s 47th film as writer-director finally sees the light of day

  

A Rainy Day in New York

Whingeing in the rain: Timothée Chalamet

  

Whatever one’s personal feelings about Woody Allen, the writer can still craft a good quip. Like so many of his films, A Rainy Day in New York is a love letter to his home town, packed with privileged characters who know their cultural canon. A romantic comedy about two students from Yardley College who spend an eventful weekend in Manhattan, the film is a sprightly affair with its fair share of amusing one-liners. Timothée Chalamet is Gatsby Welles, the worldly aesthete chewing on a silver spoon who has fallen head-over-heels for the effervescent, wide-eyed Ashleigh Enright (Elle Fanning), another scion of “the one percent.” Even so, she’s only visited Manhattan twice – she hails from Tucson, Arizona – and an opportunity to interview an arthouse filmmaker for her student magazine presents a major opportunity. Gatsby sees the trip as a romantic prospect to spoil and educate (and impress) his beloved, although Ashleigh sees it more as a stepping stone to cement her journalistic future.

 

The premise of a pretty young student seduced by the attentions of influential older men is more problematic. In turn, Ashleigh comes under the spell of Liev Schreiber’s self-doubting director, Jude Law’s cuckolded screenwriter and a matinee idol played by Diego Luna. And, in the tradition of seasoned bedroom farce, she finds herself both stripped of her clothes and her dignity. Had Chalamet’s arrogant, self-righteous narcissist (complete with Woody’s trademark intonation) been a tad more sympathetic, and Fanning’s silly, self-centred opportunist less treacherous, the emotional undertow might have proved more satisfying.

 

As it is, the director gains his usual gratification by showing up the ignorance of characters less informed than himself (a high-class call girl doesn’t know who Charlie Parker is), while name-checking everybody from Ashley Wilkes to Sky Masterson. Lazier attempts at humour spotlight the ridiculous laugh of a female character (courtesy of Annaleigh Ashford) and various verbal misunderstandings. Also, there’s a sense that these young people are being fed dialogue by a wit way beyond their age range, while some lines feel written rather than spontaneously expressed (a tipsy Ashleigh: “I shouldn’t imbibe so copiously!”). Nonetheless, Woody has secured some good supporting terms from Selina Gomez, Cherry Jones and Kelly Rohrbach, gives his story a nimble tempo and has made the most of his rainy, sunny New York locations.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Elle Fanning, Selena Gomez, Jude Law, Diego Luna, Liev Schreiber, Kelly Rohrbach, Annaleigh Ashford, Rebecca Hall, Cherry Jones, Will Rogers, Suki Waterhouse, Ben Warheit, Griffin Newman, Kathryn Leigh Scott.

 

Dir Woody Allen, Pro Letty Aronson and Erika Aronson, Screenplay Woody Allen, Ph Vittorio Storaro, Pro Des Santo Loquasto, Ed Alisa Lepselter, Costumes Suzy Benzinger, Vocal coach Douglas J. Cohen.

 

Gravier Productions/Perdido Productions-Signature Entertainment.

88 mins. USA. 2019. Rel: 5 June 2020 on various UK digital platforms. Cert. 12.