Annie Hall is a romantic comedy about falling out-of-love. In the film, Woody Allen’s Alvy Singer is trying to analyze what went wrong in his relationship with Annie, brilliantly acted by Diane Keaton. His introspection starts with his childhood and moves forward into their tennis court meeting. From there, we get to see their relationship blossom, plateau, and decline, eventually concluding in a stereotypical, well intended-but-awkward friendship. The film is funny, and real, and heartbreakingly sweet.
You would think that a film co-written, directed, starring, and from the narrative perspective of Woody Allen would be about Woody Allen, but it wasn’t. I mean, sure, the film had plenty of comedy about Allen’s Jewish identity, cringy and voracious sexual appetite, and personal hang-ups. But Diane Keaton was the real star (I mean, the film is named after her character). She comedically and convincingly portrays a small-town girl as she navigates what ended up being a quarter-life crisis relationship. It was a real butterfly act watching Annie shed her naivety for confidence, showing how a mismatched relationship and life detour can shape who we become.
I probably loved this film because I’m a sucker for “nebbish guy internal monologue” driven comedies (a niche, I know!). “Scrubs” is still one of my favorite shows and this film reminded me of it quite a bit. Especially in its use of format changes and breaking of the 4th wall. I mean, I thought I was watching “When Harry Met Sally” but realized I was watching “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”. Or both, sort of. Allen’s ability to tell a genuine story about love while using crazy dream-sequences, time travel, and even animation to place us inside his head was a tremendously clever balancing act and one that succeeds.
If I remember correctly, “Annie Hall” was the last film I added on this year’s film list and I did so on a whim. I knew nothing about it but it kept coming up on “best comedy”, “best romance”, and “best Oscar winner” lists (that’s right, this is the film that beat "Star Wars" for ‘Best Picture’). In the end, I thought it was a tremendously funny and rewarding film and, if you can stomach Woody Allen’s style and character, totally worth a watch.