Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Whatever Works (2009)

Director: Woody Allen
Writer:    Woody Allen
Cast:       Larry David, Evan Rachel Wood, Henry Cavill

A middle-aged, misanthropic divorcee from New-York city surprisingly enters a fulfilling, Pygmalion-type relationship with a much younger, unsophisticated southern girl. He is a physicist who almost won a Nobel prize while she is the stereotypical blonde and dumb catholic bombshell from mid-west. 

Larry David in a Woody Allen film should be quite something right? I cannot really tell whether it is more of the typical Larry David from Curbs or is him acting as the alter-ego for Woody Allen in this film. Maybe both of them are one and the same, sharing a similar world-view and neurosis only varying in the intensity of it.  I am a fan of both of them and Seinfeld is among my favorite television shows with Curbs falling not far behind. In Seinfeld we had George Costanza as Larry's alter-ego while in Curbs he plays himself in a largely improvised fashion. The screenplay for Whatever Works was written by Allen in the 70s originally for Zero Mostel and with the actor's death the project was shelved. Allen dusted off his old script when Hollywood was facing the Writer's strike and cast Larry David who was initially a bit apprehensive since he had done largely improvisational style work. 

It is essentially another version of 'Magic in the Moonlight' or rather vice versa to make chronological sense. Both of them have protagonists with a very pessimistic but realistic outlook to life. Their first relationship shown in the films were with partners that made all the logical sense. Both of them then gets smitten by someone who is just the exact opposite of themselves and thus being a totally illogical match. Woody Allen is trying to emphasize the fact that when it comes to love, luck and pure chance plays a bigger role compared to logic. As Boris (Larry David) puts it, since we live in an indifferent world without any purpose to our lives, try to get whatever joy you can derive out of it and choose whatever works. 

Overall it is a good watch without being anything more than that. Some of the characters are intentionally cartoonish and maybe the script being from the 70s contributed to it in terms of the portrayal of both red-neck as well liberal characters. It marked a return to New-York for Woody Allen after making four films in Europe. The way he shot New-York is more like Kubrick's 'Eyes Wide Shut' style rather than his own characteristic 'Annie Hall' like look. Boris breaks the fourth wall quite a number of times and there are plenty of jokes that you might miss if you don't pay attention (Abyss one for eg). If you are fan of Woody Allen or Larry David, then you will certainly enjoy it as long as expectations are a bit toned down.

Rating: 3/5