A Rainy Day in New York: A Brilliant Woody Allen (review)

A Rainy Day in New York: A Brilliant Woody Allen (review)

Released in the United States by Amazon Studios, the latest Woody Allen is quite a nice surprise.

Updated February 21, 2024: Five after his release at the cinema, disrupted by Woody Allen’s affairs, A rainy day in New York is finally broadcast for the first time unencrypted on television, this Wednesday on Arte. A romantic comedy carried by Timothée Chalamet, Elle Fanning and Selena Gomez which seduced the editorial staff of First.

Article from September 17, 2019: We thought we would never see him. Following the #MeToo movement and the resurgence of Dylan Farrow’s accusations against his father-in-law Woody Allen, Amazon Studios, producer and distributor of the director’s last three opuses, chose, at the beginning of 2018, to simply cancel the release of ‘A rainy day in New York in the USA. The rest of the world – well, that which had bought the rights to the film – was however not concerned by this decision dictated by a form of prudence, itself conditioned by a very particular American context.

In France, Mars Films, regular distributor of the director’s films for ten years, wisely waited for things to settle down a little to work on the release. On arrival, we can only rejoice at this small turnaround in the situation (it is indeed one: the current circumstances and the bitter failure in France of Wonder Wheel, the previous Woody Allen, would dampen many ambitions). If we stick strictly to the artistic aspect, A rainy day in New York is arguably what Woody Allen has done best since, well, Blue Jasmine.

An intellectual student, with the high-sounding name of Gatsby Welles (Timothée Chalamet), invites his girlfriend, Ashley Enright (Elle Fanning), to spend a romantic weekend in New York. The young woman, an apprentice film journalist, wants to take advantage of the opportunity to meet Roland Pollard (Liev Schreiber), one of the greatest directors in activity. That’s good, he accepted the principle of an interview for Ashley’s university gazette. Things are obviously not going to go as planned. Obsessed by her interview with the great, depressed man, Ashley is carted around New York while Gatsby tries to kill his growing sadness through the chance encounters he meets in the streets.

On paper, A rainy day in New York is nothing revolutionary in the sense that the Allenian breviary remains unchanged: the characters are at a crossroads and question the meaning to give to their lives. It discusses, it argues, it works a lot in the world city (filmed with this proximity of which Allen has the secret), mirror of the existential worries of the protagonists. The girls are bubbly and pretty, the boys are pedantic, the adults are inconsistent, the escort girls are witty. Marivaudage is cheerful, trivial and melancholy. Like a sense of deja vu, and yet…

However, the film has an undeniable charm. This little extra soul which the Woody Allens of the 21st century are sometimes deprived of – with the exception of Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Midnight in Paris. This charm (this magic, “charm”, in the English sense of the term) is everywhere on the screen: in the delicate and teasing conversations between Gatsby and Shannon (Selena Gomez), met on the set of a short film; in the exquisite bursts of laughter of Ashley, a perfect ingénue who nevertheless never loses her sense of reality; in the character of Gatsby’s mother (Cherry Jones), incredible and quite unique Allenian creature who delivers the most beautiful monologue of the film, of a feminism that we have not finished commenting on.

The renewal of generations also contributes to the charm working. Timothée Chalamet does not exhaust himself in mimicking Allen and plays the romanticism card to the fullest, which he masters wonderfully. Elle Fanning is breathtakingly sassy. Selena Gomez simpers just the right amount. Kelly Rohrbach (the escort) raises the temperature… As if exhilarated by this triumphant youth, Woody Allen shows that he still has something under his belt. This is rather good news.

A rainy day in New York, Wednesday February 21, 2024 at 8:55 p.m. on Arte

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