Saturday, September 12, 2009

Whatever Works

No Late Nights

Whatever Works, worked. To a large extent, this Woody Allen film just happened to be right up my alley with its level of sarcasm, and impressions ranging ranging from relationships, religion and just about everything that life's about under this crazy sun. Having jet-set to Europe with his last few films, Allen returns to New York, and has Larry David star as his mouthpiece, the self-proclaimed genius and know-it-all Boris Yellnikoff, who serves to be our guide through this quirky film with some keen observations and sharp commentary.

Boris, to begin with, is not very well-liked, depending on which side of his fence you're happening to be standing on. Extremely grumpy though full of wit that rolls off his tongue as smoothly as hot knife through butter, we learn why he's so bitter as he breaks the fourth barrier and communicates directly with us, and in a way educates us through his meanness, which also involved bullying school kids at chess, complete with verbal barrage.

His less than complete, unsatisfactory life of loneliness gets interrupted when Evan Rachel Wood's Melodie St. Ann Celestine (what a mouthful!), a beauty queen down from the South, comes gatecrashing into his home. One can smell instant romance in the air despite plenty of obvious obstacles, for starters their age, but between these two characters, Allen's creative banter for them became the highlight, and you can't help but to chuckle at one's intellectual superiority over the other, as Wood really hammed it up as the bimbo with a heart of gold.

An old man with a nubile young blonde makes for perfect comedic fodder, but Allen pours on more quirky characters, especially with Patricia Clarkson's Marietta, Melodie's mom steeped in traditional values, being brought about town and given an eye opener to what's more than life than bending over an oven in the kitchen, or religion even. Her appearance and transformation too cast doubts into Boris' and Melodie's relationship, especially since she's very disapproving just because her daughter's looks is more compatible to hot hunks like Randy James (Henry Cavill).

The dialogue in the film is undeniable the highlight and the best of what this film is about, though Allen over-indulged himself with the addition of yet another character, Melodie's dad John (Ed Begley Jr) late into the game, just so as to become all inclusive in his exploration and address of modern liberal relationships, the kind that will raise an eyebrow, which you can see coming from a mile away.

But the best advice dished out by Boris, to someone in mid-life, would be the titular Whatever Works. It's Carpe Diem in a way, though it comes with a tone of resignation that one shouldn't be too choosy, too fussy, and basically to go with the flow and accept what life, change and fate decide to dish up and throw at you, to take things in stride. It isn't Woody Allen's finest, but it sure does have its moments as it served to entertain, enlighten, and remind.

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