Woody Allen’s latest film A RAINY DAY IN NEW YORK seems like it’s out of time. And in the case of the controversial director, this is exceptionally to be understood as entirely negative. We reveal exactly what that means in our review.
Meanwhile, Gatsby (Timothée Chalamet) meets Chan (Selena Gomez)…
The plot summary
Gatsby (Timothée Chalamet) plans a romantic weekend in New York with his college sweetheart Ashleigh (Elle Fanning). Ashleigh is supposed to interview the famous director Roland Pollard (Liev Schreiber) for the college newspaper, and in the remaining time Gatsby wants to show her his city – and that is above all the old New York with classics like Bemelmans Bar and a carriage ride through Central Park. But after the interview, Ashleigh is invited by Roland Pollard to a screening of his latest film. As she slides from one unexpected situation to the next with him, his screenwriter Ted Davidoff (Jude Law) and the celebrated film star Francisco Vega (Diego Luna), she has to put Gatsby off again and again. Left to his own devices, he drifts through the streets of New York in the rain. And not only does he meet Chan (Selena Gomez), his ex-girlfriend’s quick-witted younger sister, he also has a conversation with his mother (Cherry Jones) that changes everything for him. So at the end of a rainy day, for both Gatsby and Ashleigh, nothing is as they expected it to be…
A Rainy Day in New York Movie Meaning & ending
Woody Allen was a constant in the international film business for many decades. The director and screenwriter has released at least one film a year since 1977. The stars flock to his place and donors are quickly found. However, two years have now passed since “Wonder Wheel” , which was released in cinemas at the beginning of 2017. No drama, one would think, given the master’s advanced age. You might think that he only shoots every two years. But in the case of “A Rainy Day in New York,” Allen didn’t need much longer to complete the film: Allen completed his work on the film in the third quarter of 2018 – in time to continue his series of work without interruption. Amazon Studios, which had previously worked with Woody Allen on two films and a series, got cold feet and refused to release the film in their markets. Many distributors also dropped out internationally – in Germany, for example, Warner Bros. abandoned “A Rainy Day in New York” after years of loyalty to Woody Allen. Allen’s latest film has now found new distributors in many markets (but not in the USA), but after the tough “Wonder Wheel”, “A Rainy Day in New York” is not his next revelation, but a film that can only give an idea of the brilliant years of the Brooklyn-born auteur. Allen was able to assemble his usual high-class ensemble in front of the camera – although in the wake of the #MeToo debates, many cast members distanced themselves from the film and announced that they would donate their fees. And, while we’re at it: Although the content of his film actually has nothing to do with the abuse allegations against Allen that have existed for years, “A Rainy Day in New York” comes across as a defiant commentary on his critics in an extremely unpleasant way. And it wasn’t exactly apt and evil, but rather a confirmation and a failure.
Ashleigh (Elle Fanning) in conversation with director Roland Pollard (Liev Schreiber).
“A rainy Day in New Yok” consists of the usual ingredients of every Woody Allen film: the Big Apple as a backdrop, strange main and supporting characters, amorous entanglements and lots of first world problems. The fact that Allen varies his films very little from the ground up (the design of the opening and closing credits is basically identical) has never been a problem in recent years. In the end, he was usually able to get some nice twist out of his stories and at least some good and sometimes outstanding dialogue. In “A Rainy Day in New York” the usual formula no longer works. Maybe because people are now simply too sensitive to the outdated role models and clichés that Allen once again takes up with absolute ease. But perhaps also because he does exactly that much more in “A Rainy Day in New York” than in his previous films. In the basic constellation he follows a young couple from the provinces to New York. Here she is supposed to interview a famous Hollywood director (whose name Roland Pollard probably only coincidentally reminds us of the no less controversial Roman Polanski…), which he only accepts with annoyance. A harmless question-and-answer game between the interviewer and the interviewee soon turns into an intensive conversation, during which she completely falls for him. The self-confident young journalist turns relatively quickly into a very naive lover who can easily be wrapped around her finger by the subliminal advances of her counterpart. This seems more than strange, not only because of the age difference that is clearly highlighted by the acting of both actors.
With the help of subtle verbal suppression, Roland Pollard dictates the distribution of roles at any time: he is the powerful director superstar (although self-pitying in the best “Fishing for Compliments” style), she is the writer who is completely inexperienced in the business. He lures her with private cinema visits to his latest film and invitations to popular VIP parties, and in return she writes about these same films. Instead of using this starting point to cleverly observe and, in the best case, even question the normal Hollywood madness, director and screenwriter Woody Allen simply cements common clichés of the dream factory and drags his limitlessly naive protagonist further and further into a swamp of mutual dependence. Elle Fanning’s Ashleigh is chased by one powerful filmmaker into the arms of the next, until at some point she finds herself half-naked in a superstar’s apartment in order to have sex with him – just prudish and reserved, now under the influence of alcohol. This character change is not only absolutely unbelievable in this short narrative time, it almost seems parodic in the context of this almost brazen plot about a woman who inevitably cannot escape the beautiful eyes of successful men, no matter how smart and clever she is initially introduced . By the way, “A rainy Day in New York” seems in many places like a kind of “Now more than ever!” comment from Allen on the accusations that were made to him again and again during his career. And no matter whether intentional or not: the end result is questionable in any case.
Also due to Elle Fanning’s acting, which repeatedly crosses the boundaries of overacting and makes the character of Ashleigh particularly extremely annoying (“The Neon Demon”) puts everything about her and her involvement in the Hollywood scene clearly at the center of “A Rainy Day in New York”. With the storyline surrounding Ashleigh’s friend Gatsby, which was later downgraded to a subplot, Woody Allen was able to temporarily regain a bit of his old class. When the young man, left to his own devices in the absence of his girlfriend, strolls through rainy New York, meets up with a good friend, runs into old acquaintances by chance and stops by to visit his father and his new partner and his mother ( a late conversation between Gatsby and his mum is clearly the best scene in the film), everyone manages to make nice detailed observations every now and then in these short conversations. This is particularly true of the relationship between Gatsby and Chan. Timothée Chalamet (“Beautiful Boy”) and Selena Gomez (“The Dead Don’t Die”) harmonize excellently as a maybe-maybe-or-not couple, among whom not everything that needs to be said has been said, and give “A rainy Day in New York” the lightness of classic Woody Allen for at least a few scenes. Romance films. But in the end the story relies too much on its steamy Hollywood maiden in the arms of aging film stars – releasing this film in 2019 is at least brave if not completely inappropriate.
Conclusion: Regardless of whether Woody Allen intended “A Rainy Day in New York” to be a cinematic all-round blow to his critics, or whether it just looks damn clear that way: no one needed this film in this form.
“A rainy Day in New York” can be seen in USA cinemas from December 5th.