Woody Allen's latest A Rainy Day in New York a minor drizzle rather than a gale force classic
Damon Smith reviews the latest releases to watch at home while cinemas are closed. This week, Timothee Chalamet and Elle Fanning endure emotional downpours in Woody Allen's romantic comedy A Rainy Day in New York
NEUROTIC and privileged white people kvetch about their blessed and exceedingly fortunate lives as storm clouds decant over Manhattan in Woody Allen's latest valentine to his home city.
Blessed with a starry cast led by the equally luminous Timothee Chalamet and Elle Fanning, A Rainy Day In New York has been gathering dust on a shelf for two years after the MeToo movement refocused attention on the writer-director's private life.
Perhaps this beautifully photographed yet emotionally lightweight exercise in navel-gazing should have remained sight unseen because the script falls short of his best work from the past four decades.
Allen sideswipes real life when his insecure hero, a directionless college student, rages internally about his girlfriend's fascination with a man old enough to be her father.
"What the hell is it about older guys that seems so appealing to women? Christ, all they are is decrepit! What's sexy about short-term memory loss?"
There are moments when Allen reaffirms his mastery of the tart one-liner like when a mother and son verbally joust about the best word to describe a prostitute and the parent ultimately quips, "Let's not split pubic hairs".
However, some of his dialogue has been polished until it sounds fake tumbling from the lips of dithering characters.
Yardley College student Gatsby Welles (Chalamet) is untouched by the rough edges of real life thanks to the vast fortune of his New York parents (Cherry Jones, Jonathan Hogan).
He fawns deliriously over girlfriend Ashleigh Enright (Fanning), a beauty queen from Tucson, who also harks from wealthy stock and intends to make her name as a journalist on the college newspaper.
Ashleigh lands an interview with revered film director Roland Pollard (Liev Schreiber) in Manhattan and Gatsby uses his $20,000 winnings from a game of stud poker to fund a romantic weekend including a lavish hotel suite and dinner at a favourite restaurant.
Those plans are derailed when Ashleigh stumbles upon a scoop.
Pollard is deeply unhappy with his latest project. "I'm thinking of quitting", he tells the wide-eyed cub reporter.
Ashleigh becomes embroiled in the director's existential crisis, which ensnares charismatic actor Francisco Vega (Diego Luna) and screenwriter Ted Davidoff (Jude Law).
Meanwhile, an increasingly frustrated Gatsby is left to his own devices and he seeks fleeting pleasure in the company of his brother Hunter (Will Rogers) and an ex-girlfriend's little sister (Selena Gomez).
A Rainy Day In New York is a fleeting diversion, that will be forgotten as quickly as the various continuity errors that allow Chalamet's jacket to miraculously dry each time he steps out of a downpour.
The lead duo are appealing and Gomez embodies a spunky rival for Gatsby's fickle affections.
Although Allen's script is musty, Manhattan looks sparkling and fresh through the lens of Oscar-winning cinematographer Vittorio Storaro.
A RAINY DAY IN NEW YORK (12, 89 mins) Comedy/Drama/Romance. Timothee Chalamet, Elle Fanning, Selena Gomez, Jude Law, Diego Luna, Liev Schreiber, Will Rogers, Cherry Jones, Griffin Newman. Director: Woody Allen.
Released: June 5 (streaming and available to download from Amazon Prime Video, BT TV Store, Curzon Home Cinema, Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft Store, PlayStation Store, Sky Store, Virgin Media)