Woody Allen has been making one film every calendar year since 1982. He keeps that streak going as his 48th film, “A Rainy Day In New York” just maybe Woody Allen’s most troubled production yet and one that may very well be the last star studded movie he puts out. After decades of sexual abuse allegations against Woody Allen put forth by his daughter had resurfaced after movie producer Harvey Weinstein and the MeToo movement became national news. Amazon tore up the four movie deal they had with Woody Allen and refused to distribute his film. Both the films A-list stars and studio scrapped all involvement and wanted nothing to do with both Allen and his film. Now available on digital and Blu Ray, “A Rainy Day In New York” gives Allen a chance to relive the past and unleash his signature touchstones. Star Timothee Chalamet, wonderfully channels Woody Allen himself in delivering a performance of charm and exquisite comic timing. While Selena Gomez is adorable, relaxed and a natural in front of the camera. There’s a lot more here that works than doesn’t in one of Woody Allen’s breeziest films and his newest love letter to the big apple is an entertaining old-fashioned romantic comedy. It’s nothing new for the helmer but a nice revisit to the Allen universe that we have all come to love. “A Rainy Day In New York”, has all the ingredients of a classic Woody Allen New York City love story, that manages to exude charm, create smiles and tugs at the heart.
There are a thousand things one could discuss about Woody Allen and his 70 years in comedy, his 55 years of making movies or like some in bringing up his personal troubles. Whether you like him or not, it’s impossible to deny that Woody Allen at the ripe age of 84 is still a brilliant artistic mind of cinema. Allen who has received three Oscars for original screenplay (“Annie Hall,” “Hannah and Her Sisters,” and “Midnight In Paris”) and he has a directing win for “Annie Hall”. Overall, Allen’s been nominated for an Academy Award twenty-four times, sixteen for screenwriting, seven for directing and once for acting.
He writes and directs his own films, who has released one film every calendar year, since 1982’s “A Midsummer’s Night Sex Comedy”. He Keeps that streak going with his newest film “A Rainy Day In New York”, which is very impressively his 48th film. He has already finished his 49th and if it were not for the coronavirus, he would be filming his 50th this summer. So that would mean his one movie a year streak has been broken? Darn you Covid!
“A Rainy Day In New York” just maybe Woody Allen’s most troubled production yet and one that may very well be the last star studded movie he puts out. After decades of sexual abuse allegations against Allen that were made by his daughter Dylan Farrow (daughter of “Rosemary’s Baby” Mia Farrow). “A Rainy Day in New York” marks the first time there has been a tangible effort from the distributor in burying it completely to the cast in distancing themselves from both Woody Allen and the film.
Now available on digital and Blu Ray, “A Rainy Day In New York” was originally produced as part of Allen’s massive agreement with Amazon for four movies with paychecks worth up to $73 million. But between the start of the film’s principal photography in 2017 and its completion of post-production in 2018. The investigations into mega producer Harvey Weinstein’s three decades of predatory sexual assault, abuse and harassment had ignited the #MeToo movement and a cultural reckoning on powerful men and their sexual misconducts.
The result of the #MeToo movement, brought Farrow’s allegations back to the forefront and one again questioned whether Allen should still have a place in Hollywood. The return of the allegations led to Amazon realizing it was dealing with a PR crisis. The growing power of the #MeToo movement, the resurfacing of Farrow’s allegations and Allen’s own controversial remarks in response to the movement led to the movie being rendered essentially unmarketable.
Despite the film already being in the can, Amazon had announced that “it does not intend to distribute or otherwise exploit the Pictures in any domestic or international territories”. In February 2019, Allen sued Amazon, demanding the $68-73 million in guarantees and further monetary damages for terminating his deal. The breach of contract lawsuit grieved, “Amazon has tried to excuse its action by referencing a 25-year old, baseless allegation against Mr. Allen, but that allegation was already well known to Amazon (and the public) before Amazon entered into four separate deals with Mr. Allen and, in any event it does not provide a basis for Amazon to terminate their contract”.
A few months later, Amazon returned the rights of the movie to Woody Allen. Where the two parties settled soon after and, was soon announced that distributor Signature Entertainment would be releasing “A Rainy Day In New York” in theaters in the UK and North America.
Not only was Amazon distancing themselves from the film and Allen, but so was his cast. Actor Griffin Newman, who had a small role in the film, was the first actor to speak out, explaining in a 2017 tweet that he believed Allen was guilty, that he regretted taking a role in the film and that he was donating his entire salary for his work to RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network).
Several months later, lead star Timothée Chalamet followed suit. Chalamet stated in an Instagram post: “I have been asked in a few recent interviews about my decision to work on a film with Woody Allen. What I can say is this: I don’t want to profit from my work on the film and to that end, I am going to donate my entire salary”. Chalamet donated his salary to three different charities: RAINN, Time’s Up and the LGBT Center in New York. Co-star Selena Gomez also joined the donation train and gave double her salary to various women’s charities.
“A Rainy Day In New York” sees college sweethearts Gatsby Welles (played by Timothee Chalamet) and Ashleigh Enright (Elle Fanning) are looking forward to a wonderful weekend together in Manhattan. The wealthy and habitual gambler Gatsby wants to show Ashleigh the romantic side of New York. But when celebrity-crazed Ashleigh gets a chance to interview surly film director, Rolland Pollard (Liev Schreiber), she’s enticed into a screening of his new film which in turn, leads her from Pollard to screenwriter Ted Davidoff (Jude Law) to international screen star Francisco Vega (Diego Luna). Meanwhile, Gatsby winds up spending time with the beautiful young star Chan (Selena Gomez), who is the sister of his high school girlfriend.
Timothee Chalamet, wonderfully channels Woody Allen himself, delivering a performance of charm and exquisite comic timing. There’s not a false note in what Chalamet does. Selena Gomez as Chan is gloriously adorable, relaxed and a natural in front of the camera. Why isn’t she in more movies? But the real star is Vittorio Storaro’s deluxe cinematography which is magnificent. It enhances Allen’s adoration of Manhattan.
“A Rainy Day in New York” doesn’t aspire to the same heights as “Annie Hall” (I don’t think anything can match that of “Annie Hall”). What Allen gives us here is a simple tale of boy meets girl. Allen has always been a sucker for telling these kinds of stories and while Allen has such a strong grasp of the romantic comedy genre, it is also unfortunately his downfall in not being able to traverse any new ground.
“A Rainy Day In New York” gives Allen a chance to relive the past and unleash his trademark neurotic dialogue, pontify about classical artists and critique modern culture. “A Rainy Day in New York” features all of Allen’s signature touchstones, the A-list actors involved and it’s explored themes of love and confusion have weight to them. There’s a lot more that works than doesn’t in one of his breeziest films.
Allen’s newest love letter to the big apple is an entertaining old-fashioned romantic comedy that is nothing new for the helmer but a nice revisit to the Allen universe that we have all come to love. Despite the allegations against Woody Allen having been around for decades it hasn’t poisoned his box office in the past and while Rainy Day has finally sneaked it’s way onto digital and Blu Ray. It still found itself playing film festivals and enjoying an international release, earning roughly $22 million, which is roughly on a par with his classics like “Bullets Over Broadway”.
For fans longing for that classic Woody Allen film, “Rainy Day” is as about as close as it’s been in years, maybe even in a decade. It has all the ingredients of a classic Allen New York City-set love story, that still manages to tickle the heart.
GRADE: ★★★1/2☆☆ (3.5 out of 5)