Author: Jack Greenbaum
“Annie Hall” is not a traditional romantic comedy, although recently there have certainly been movies that have tried to emulate its unorthodox tone (e.g. “(500) Days of Summer,” “High Fidelity”).
It was groundbreaking for the genre during its initial release in 1977, and its impact has not diminished.
While most romantic comedies focus on the significance of the couple getting together, “Annie Hall” is about the little incidents, the minutiae in a relationship and how special those moments really are.
Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) is an established stand-up comedian who meets aspiring singer Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) during a doubles tennis match. They immediately connect, and a relationship soon blossoms over lobsters, people-watching and kissing under the Brooklyn Bridge.
The film is told in a nonlinear fashion. Each scene serves as its own little vignette in Alvy’s life, while maintaining the progression of the story. When the film is over, though, the audience can sort through the pieces, just like one would after a real-life relationship.
“Annie Hall” is refreshing in its sense of self-awareness. Alvy constantly breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience to explain what he’s thinking. At one point, subtitles are used to convey the subtext between Alvy and Annie’s conversation. Allen includes Alvy’s daydreams and thoughts in order to color the context of his inner dialogue.
In this way, the film feels less like a movie and more like a good friend, jocular and honest, recounting his relationship to you — the funny bits and the hardships, complete with all his neuroses and anxieties.
“Annie Hall” is a film that can make you forget all you’re problems when you’re feeling down and make you appreciate life more than you thought you could when you’re feeling great. It has a magic that enthralls you.
It’s impossible not to feel connected to Alvy and Annie, both individually and together. They make you believe in the possibility of true love and also fear its inevitable fade.
You respond to them because their problems are real and the same ones we face every day. You know in the beginning Alvy and Annie part ways, but you can’t help but hope that their love can overcome reality.
Even though the ending is not necessarily happy, “Annie Hall” truly represents what films, or at least romantic comedies, are all about: making you see the hilarity in life and love.
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