Set in 1979 Manhattan, Woody Allen’s film is as much a love letter to romance as it is a love letter to being critical of romance. Shot in black and white, with a seemingly staged Manhattan skyline as the (literal, in some scenes) backdrop, Allen stars as his alter ego Issac Davis, a twice-divorced TV writer yearning to be a novelist.
Issac (Woody) is nostalgic for romance and ideals – while he scamps about in an endless cycle looking for love – dating a preternaturally insightful 17 year old (played by breathtaking Mariel Hemingway, pictured above) and later dumping her for the charmingly self-obsessed Mary (Diane Keaton). The paradox of Issac is that he considers himself a hopeless romantic. In reality (if there is such a thing to a quintessential artist), Issac’s obsession with romance might just be the cause of his inability to really have an awakening where love is concerned. The fantasy the artist enjoys may just have to suffice.
WHY WE LOVE IT
Like no other Woody Allen film, the visual language holds up to the effortless naturalism of Allen’s writing. For him, reality keeps getting in the way of how he desires his world to be. We couldn’t help but think Noah Baumbach might have been thinking along the Manhattan lines with his new film Frances Ha – shot in black and white, starring Greta Gerwig, who some might call the Diane Keaton of the noughties (some may call her this, but for us there will only be one Diane Keaton!)
In Manhattan Isaac believes the liberalism of the late 70’s has blurred the gender roles of men and women so much that romance was ill-fated. We’re not convinced… but between Bad Day Magazine editor cool-girl Eva Michon telling us she’s a tomboy at heart (coming soon to TLL) and April’s Vogue magazine declaring a New androgyny in fashion, the wardrobe in Manhattan is the perfect back-drop for the direction fashion is headed in 2013/2014.
In Manhattan Diane Keaton hasn’t gone full vest and thick tie a la Annie Hall yet, but her penchant for boyish blazers and buttoned-up dress shirts is 1970’s YSL meets 1990’s power suits and we couldn’t love it more. We’re even letting our hair air-dry into a crimpy curl because it looks so good on Keaton’s Mary. Round sunglasses in for this summer? Mary did it first. We’ll be buying a pair like these ones by The Row and letting our own skyline reflect its promise in the lenses.