92 minutes| U.S.A.-France| 2009| Colour| Dolby Digital Stereo| 35mm

Back in Manhattan for the first time in years, this Woody Allen comedy feels like a homecoming, and it’s an infectiously good-natured occasion. Not that you’d immediately surmise this from the casting of Larry David, doing a riff on his Curb Your Enthusiasm form, as a misanthropic Nobel-short-listed physicist who’s certain he knows best when he calls the rest of humanity ‘worms’. Not for the first time in an Allen movie, this gnarly old codger falls in with a much younger woman, blissfully naive waif Evan Rachel Wood, who’s completely captivated by his splenetic worldview and might be about to change his views on bachelorhood forever. Allen approaches all this with an evidently self-mocking touch and, as escalating complications involve the ever-wonderful Patricia Clarkson as the girl’s capricious Southern Belle momma, there’s a warm-hearted sense of fun to the proceedings. Whatever Works will not only delight Woody’s loyal fans, but perhaps sway a few sceptics too. Notes by Trevor Johnston

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