Despite featuring some of the finest on-screen talents of recent years, the latest film from Woody Allen ‘A Rainy Day in New York’ is a decidedly damp affair. Its narrative combining a mix of 1950s nostalgia, 1980s affluence, and his trademark whimsey alongside a 21st Century backdrop. Ultimately creating a film that feels both disconnected and distant; a relic from another time. While in turn managing to fall flat in both the romance and comedy it tries to embody. Of course, artistically the dreamlike aesthetic of the film may well have been Allen’s intention. Creating an almost theatrical and displaced reality where love can grow. However, if that was the case the end result is nothing short of misguided, jarring, and dull.
In many ways, A Rainy Day in New York feels symbolic of a director purely retreading ground that led to past glory. Desperately attempting to find a new audience through the talent of a new generation. However, the sparks and roar of his past romantic comedies simply turn to faint glowing embers. In a screenplay that struggles to both engage and entertain its audience. While in turn reflecting a world too distant from modern-day experience.
Gatsby Wells (Timothée Chalamet), is a student studying at the prestigious and fictional Yardley Art College in upstate New York. His family wealth and personal privilege covering a gambling addiction and love of Cole Porter, cigarettes, and romance. His girlfriend Ashleigh (Elle Fanning) a journalism major who loves film and art. But also lacks self-confidence in her own ability to eventually write for a living. Her love for Gatsby sincere yet also necessary in furthering her future aspirations.
When Ashleigh receives an invitation to interview a famous film director for the college newspaper in New York. Both young lovers jump at the chance to head to the city for a romantic weekend. With Gatsby keen to show Ashleigh all his favourite wealthy haunts, with his recent poker winnings. While in turn avoiding his mother’s extravagant annual party at the grand family home in Manhattan. However, on arrival in New York the big apple has other plans for the couple. Plans that lead them both to face their true wants and desires as the rain pours down over Central Park.
While A Rainy Day in New York may look beautiful in the hands of Vittorio Storaro, alongside performances that manage to keep the film just above the waterline. This is a film that ultimately feels incomplete; its pace stunted, its performances lackluster and direction poor. Ultimately leaving you deflated as you wonder how the director of Annie Hall and Manhattan could get something so wrong on what should have been home ground. His vision of an alternate New York reality caught in a patronising dreamlike vision of young love. One where his actors feel controlled and unable to let their inner light shine on screen.
Of course, the film’s trajectory has not been helped by the sexual abuse allegations leveled at Allen. But equally refuted by the director in public with no charges having been brought. Ultimately leaving a bad taste in the mouth of the film’s stars and the original distributor Amazon Studios. While in turn leading many speculate whether this may be the last Woody Allen outing.
Whether this turns out to be the case or not, A Rainy Day in New York will find viewers thanks to a cast including Diego Luna and Selena Gomez. Their performances alongside Chalamet and Fanning managing to keep the film from drifting into complete obscurity. While equally managing to elaborate the occasional glimmers of brilliance that used to pervade Woody Allen’s work. However, the end result is nothing short of a disappointing mess, the film’s aesthetic not only jarring but dull and lifeless.
Director: Woody Allen
Timothée Chalamet also appears in The King, Beautiful Boy and Call Me By Your Name