Woody Allen has a remarkable ability to make me completely puzzled about what I think of, and how I feel about, his films. I thought Hannah and Her Sisters was the most difficult film to sort out my thoughts about, but Manhattan is just about as difficult. This is one of those situations in which I really feel that I ought to like it. There are many reasons for this: I love Woody Allen; the acting and characters are great; the conflict is unique and clever; the jokes, though rare, are strong; the soundtrack is lovely, creating the perfect atmosphere; the movie looks gorgeous in black and white widescreen, and is filled with brilliant looking shots/scenes. The movie just doesn’t work for me.
I get very annoyed by movies in which the protagonist consistently makes bad decisions and displays poor judgment, making him not very relatable, and this is definitely one of those movies. It feels like a series of changes in the way the characters feel about one another, since no one in this film can decide who he/she really loves. This means creates a cycle that runs throughout the film: a couple is in love for a while, and then the relationship falls apart, and then a new one forms. Generally, the new relationship that forms is a relationship that fell apart earlier in the film, but they’re taking another stab at it. Frankly, the film is difficult to classify as a drama or a comedy, mostly because it’s not much of a story. To make matters worse, the film does not end strongly, and it leaves me wondering why there wasn’t a better pay off to the boredom endured previously. It’s a beautiful film that was flawlessly executed aside from the fact that it is pointless.