Director: Woody Allen

108 minutes| U.S.A.-France-U.K.| 2003| Colour| Anamorphic| Dolby Digital Mono| 35mm

Woody Allen has a supporting role here, being mentor to a young comedy writer (Jason Biggs) who is struggling with his first novel and also with his relationship with a neurotic actress (Christina Ricci). When Biggs starts addressing the camera directly, we seem to be in Annie Hall territory thirty years on, but the tone is darker, more disillusioned: Allen’s embittered Manhattan schoolteacher is now mainly impressed by the ingenuity with which his pupils smuggle weapons past the metal detector. Significantly, the funniest moments have an undercurrent of violence, most notably when Allen succumbs to road rage, or when Danny DeVito’s agent explosively demonstrates how not to deal with rejection after Biggs tells him he is taking his services elsewhere. An intriguingly uncomfortable film about the malaise of modern living, it has the charm quotient of Celebrity (i.e. nil) but also what Philip French has described as Allen’s finest masturbation quip, which would be a shame to spoil.

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