Thursday, December 16, 2010
#5: Whatever Works
Since 2006 when I first encountered a Woody Allen movie to this day, I've seen 33 of his movies. A greater part of my life beyond working hours since that day has been spent on finding more about his movies, his life, his inspirations, his books and everything else around him. Suffice to say that, I would count myself among the top 5 fans across the world notwithstanding the fact that I am always speaking ahead of time and turn.
With that background in place, I set out to now review 'Whatever Works' - his directorial work of the year 2009. The most striking element of the movie is that this is a movie without Woody as the lead but very much with someone ( Larry David) who knows and attempts to display on-screen every mannerism that Woody has displayed in his earlier movies. So much so that if know your Woody Allen, you're almost irritated as to why Woody himself didn't essay the role.
The plot is a familiar one - of a relationship between the protagonist who is a physicist genius Boris - played by Larry David and a young girl who hasn't seen much of the world. That being the core, the supporting cast of the girl's parents join in along with Boris' friends and attempt to cook up a 90 minute drama that fails to impress. Compared to some of Woody's earlier movies which are based on similar themes of infidelity like Husbands and Wives or Hannah and Her Sisters, Whatever Works is a pale imitation.
The highlight of the movie has to be Larry David and some of the lines, that Woody Allen the writer, has conjured for him. Larry David tries to do justice to the character of this mildly eccentric physicist, Boris who once almost won the Nobel Prize. The movie is told from the eyes of Boris and viewer is led through the time from when he meets a young girl. The absence of any sort of conflict and a weak supporting cast of characters do not help the movie in overcoming the monotony that touches you after the first 15 minutes.
I've always held that every movie offers something new, something that will stick the movie in some corner of your memory or something that you'll be able to talk about in a conversation. Whatever Works just doesn't work in even this modest regard. It is at best a watch for those who just will watch anything for Woody Allen and yet will stand out from his filmography as one of his weakest movies, if not the weakest movie.