Manhattan review (Blu-ray)

Among his extensive (and mostly impressive) oeuvre, Woody Allen has two undeniable masterpieces. The first is Annie Hall. The second is Manhattan, the tale of a writer having a bit of a mid-life crisis.

Allen plays Isaac, a divorced New York comedy writer and would-be novelist who is dating a  high-school student (Hemingway) and yet finds himself falling for his best friend's mistress, the journalist Mary (Keaton).

Manhattan is a film full of wonderful moments, wonderful lines and wonderful gags. It's one of the few films that Allen got totally right – the tone, the look, the casting, the script, the setting – everything is just perfect. Is it a romantic comedy? It's certainly a very funny film, and sure it's romantic, but is it a film about love? I think I would have to agree with the great, late Roger Ebert, who said that it's a film that is more about loss than about love.  It's certainly one of Allen's best performances. His Isaac is a deeply flawed man: insecure, immature (why else would a man of 42 be dating a 17-year-old?), unsure of his place in the world and unsure of his future.

With the beautiful city of New York playing a major role, along with a superb Gershwin score, Manhattan is one of the greatest films of the 20th century – a true masterpiece of cinema on every level.


Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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