Sunday, March 28, 2010


“Comedy is tragedy plus time.”

Life, relations and human nature’s paradoxical side, perhaps that’s what Woody tried to explore in his films. Compared to his earlier light romantic satirical comedies, it’s darker and bittersweet film having elements of Dostoevskian guilt meeting Sartre or Camus existentialist philosophy wonderfully absorbed into fine plot construction and wonderful performances. It deals with so many themes covering life, death, guilt, love and religion. It’s a dark Shakespearean tragedy meeting a comedy of manners.

A very famous and reputed mid-age ophthalmologist Judah having a secret affair with another woman; she’s stubborn, neurotic and too demanding. Guided by self consciousness he wants to get rid of his infidelity but that’s not easy walk. On the other hand there’s another plot of Clifford Stern, mid age gentleman who’s trying to make a documentary film on radical thinker ended up falling in love with a wrong woman. His attempt to woo her falls flat when his rich and charming brother-in-law finally wins her.

As a writer, director and actor Woody is as great as always… but a performance to watch here is Martin Landau as guilt stricken Judas, quite appropriate biblical naming. Woody frequently paid his homage to cinema he loves and we see lot of movie clues here too. Bergman, Fellini and Groucho Marx are his favorites and here he also used Bergman’s regular cameraman Sven Nykvist to deal themes quite matching with Bergman’s films.

I just love Woody’s relationship with little niece here, frequently taking her to watch classics in cinema halls and advising her with his wisecrackers. Here are two brilliant ones- “Don’t listen to what your school teachers say. Don’t pay attention…just see what they look like and that’s how you’ll know what life will really be like.” Another where he says, “My heart says one thing; my head says something else… very hard to get your head and heart together in life. In my case they are not even friendly.”

The depth of the film lies is its ending where two totally different stories lonely protagonists sharing drink in a secluded corner in party and self scrutinizing their own unheard stories they couldn’t share with anyone. It’s dark and yet delightful and clearly worthy to watch for all Woody fans.


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