It’s always interesting to rewatch an old film and get a sense of how it holds up. Can you enjoy it as much after all these years? Many classics hold up remarkably well, but that’s not always the case.
“Annie Hall,” directed by Woody Allen and released in 1977, is widely regarded as one of the most influential and important films of the 20th century. The film stars Woody Allen and Diane Keaton along with an excellent supporting cast. The film follows the story of Alvy Singer (Allen), a neurotic New York comedian, and his relationship with Annie Hall (Keaton), an aspiring singer. Many have claimed that the story is semi-autobiographical, though Allen has denied this while Keaton has acknowledged that some of the interactions between Alvy and Annie are similar to her brief, off-screen relationship with Allen.
Diane Keaton as Annie Hall
The film won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actress for Diane Keaton’s portrayal of Annie Hall. Keaton’s Annie Hall is quirky, endearing, and struggling to find her place in the world. She delivers a brilliant performance worthy of her Oscar, and creates one of those iconic characters frozen it time that we can all fall for again and again. Her performance alone makes it easy to recommend this film to anyone who loves movies.
Classic Romantic Comedy
Some consider “Annie Hall” to be a defining film of the romantic comedy genre, even if the story doesn’t get wrapped in a nice, romantic bow at the end of the film. The story highlights the ups and downs of the relationship between Alvy and Annie. As the film progresses, the relationship between Alvy and Annie begins to deteriorate, with Alvy becoming increasingly neurotic and insecure, and Annie seeking personal fulfillment outside of the relationship. The film ends with Alvy reflecting on the lessons he has learned from his relationship with Annie, though viewers can question whether he learned anything at all.
Even in that context, the movie is hilarious. The film’s exploration of themes such as love, relationships, and personal identity is still relevant and relatable, and its unconventional approach to narrative structure continues to influence filmmakers today.
Many fans consider this Allen’s best film, though his legacy has taken quite a beating with controversy surrounding his personal life. I’m able to separate those issues from the film and I can still enjoy his work, though it’s understandable that others can’t and won’t do that.
That said, Allen as the lead character was less interesting and funny as I rewatched the film after all these years. Allen’s portrayal of the neurotic and self-absorbed Alvy Singer has become a caricature after all these years. We’ve seen variations of this role from Allen over and over again, and it just doesn’t land in the same way 45 years later.
Both Carol Kane and Shelley Duvall were excellent as other love interests for Alvy in the film. Kane plays the sweet and beautiful Allison Portchnick, Alvy’s first wife, who he somehow grows tired of. Duvall then makes quite an impression later in the film as a Rolling Stone reporter who has a one-night relationship with Alvy after his separation with Annie. They talk about their sexual experience together, which Pam describes as a “Kafkaesque experience” which she somehow meant as a compliment while Allen cracks one of his better jokes in the film. The tall and thin Duvall seems like an odd match for Allen but she flashes some unexpected sex appeal in this brief role.
Is it worth a rewatch?
“Annie Hall” was a reflection of its time, capturing the zeitgeist of the late 1970s in America. It dealt with issues such as love, sex, identity, and social class in a way that resonated with audiences of the time. And after all these years, it still holds up as a fun comedy.