Review: A Rainy Day in New York
Even though his modern outputs are the equivalent nostalgia fuelled mediocrity you’d expect from a director that has made more than fifty films over the course of the past half century, I still found myself extremely excited for Woody Allen’s latest project. A Rainy Day in New York is the long-awaited return to the streets of Manhattan Allen has been too afraid to bring us. Rather than write another film set in Europe so he can have a presumably cheap holiday, he finally gets back in touch with the city that made him a star. It’s just a shame that this star seems to have faded out somewhat, and A Rainy Day in New York is yet another example of how the quantity of Allen’s directed works is his biggest downfall.
Starring an ensemble cast featuring the likes of Jude Law, Timothée Chalamet, Elle Fanning and Selena Gomez, A Rainy Day in New York follows Gatsby (Chalamet) as he takes his girlfriend, aspiring journalist Ashleigh (Fanning) to New York. While there she runs into acclaimed director Roland Pollard (Live Schreiber), and from there she spirals into the world of Hollywood backstabbing, all the while Gatsby wanders the streets of New York looking for something to do. It’s a story that looks to prey and play with the disconnect between its two leads, who rarely manage to find time for one another in The Big Apple. It’d work, if the writing were any good.
Chalamet and Fanning are two incredible actors who have sincerely bright futures ahead of themselves, but their work in A Rainy Day in New York is serviceable at best. Gatsby is your typical presentation of a character Allen would’ve played if he were much younger. It’s the same tired formula that has seen the likes of Will Ferrell, Owen Wilson and now Call Me By Your Name star Chalamet pushed through and spat out. To give credit where it’s certainly due, Chalamet’s handful of scenes are enjoyable enough, if a little basic for what I had first expected.
Fanning on the other hand gets the chance to brush shoulders with some fine actors who, in another time period, would’ve played the prime love interests. Liev Schrieber, Jude Law and Diego Luna litter the unsuitable bachelors that play along with Ashleigh’s journalist integrity. It’d be an interesting story if it were more grounded and slower paced, with each scene seemingly representing and introducing a completely new love interest for Fanning to fawn over. It’s not the greatest pacing in the world, and we certainly don’t get enough time with any of the characters throughout the duration of this very short piece.
My main issue with the film comes from its lack of heavy hitting scenes or noticeable crescendo. I’m all for the subversion of typical narrative theory, but when it’s subverted to this extent you lose all form of narrative fluidity. The end of the movie will leave you high and dry, a sudden end that sees a variety of sudden and ridiculously random twists thrown in to give the smallest glimmer of a happy ending. But happy endings aren’t interesting anymore, sometimes a film that packs more of a punch is well suited, or at least a light romantic drama that doesn’t jump through the hoops of the genre as obediently as Allen’s latest work does.
Complacent, formulaic and at times a tad charming, A Rainy Day in New York is just like any other modern romantic film, the only benefit here is that there are a handful of nice directing choices and the occasional spark of ingenuity from the script. Hiding nothing of interest or uniqueness, writer and director Woody Allen provides us further proof that he is happy with the self-satisfied drivel he churns out on a yearly basis, and has done for near enough twenty years now. Maybe I’m the bigger fool for watching it all and enjoying some of it.