#47 / 365 – ‘Manhattan’ (1979) – 96 mins
IMDb Challenge #27 / 250 – Ranked #219 – Via DVD collection
42-year-old Manhattan native Isaac Davis (Allen) has a job he hates, a seventeen-year-old girlfriend, Tracy (Mariel Hemingway), he doesn’t love and a lesbian ex-wife, Jill (Meryl Streep), who’s writing a tell-all book about their marriage and whom he’d like to strangle. But when he meets his best friend’s Yale (Michael Murphy ), sexy intellectual mistress, Mary (Diane Keaton), Isaac falls head over heels in lust! Leaving Tracy, bedding Mary and quitting his job are just the beginning of Isaac’s quest for romance and fulfillment in a city where sex is as intimate as a handshake and the gateway to true love is a revolving door.
Opening up to an inspired montage of New York City set to the rousing tune of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” – you know you are being presented with something special.
Manhattan is a funny and touching portrayal of modern relationships, where the dialogue is intelligent and frank – Mary Wilke: “Oh, yeah. Right. Right. I understand. I could tell by the sound of your voice on the phone. Very authoritative, y’know. Like the pope, or the computer in 2001.”. The acting from the cast is superb all round, Woody Allen gives us some of his best lines in an effortless fashion. Diane Keaton balances out confidence with self-doubt, giving a great depiction of a woman caught in confusion of what she wants. Even though she appears in very few scenes, Meryl Streep is brilliantly vindictive as the ex-wife.
Shot lushly in black and white, the images are atmospheric and romantic. The scene in which Isaac and Mary sit on the park bench near the river in the foreground with a towering bridge, to the left of your eye leaves you breathless and nothing but admiration for Gordon Willis exquisite cinematography.
In summary, Manhattan really is a joy for the eyes, ears and heart, where once again I cannot believe why voters have ranked another ‘perfect’ film so lowly at #219 on the IMDb list – surely a crime against film.