Manhattan (1979)


Comedy | Drama | Romance





Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Michael Murphy, Mariel Hemingway, Meryl Streep, Anne Byrne, Michael O'Donoghue, Wallace Shawn, Karen Ludwig


The life of Isaac Davis (Woody Allen), a divorced writer of TV shows dating a 17-year-old girl (Mariel Hemingway), is further complicated when he meets Mary (Diane Keaton), the mistress of his married best friend Yale (Michael Murphy).


Woody Allen once said, "I'm never happy with my films when I finish them. Just about always. And in the case of Manhattan I was so disappointed that I didn't want to open it. I wanted to ask United Artists not to release it. I wanted to offer them to make one free movie, if they would just throw it away." Isn't life odd? The film that has disappointed Allen so much is one of his most beloved and successful films, acclaimed both by critics and audience.

Beautiful, delightful and humorous, "Manhattan" is one of the best romantic comedies ever made as well as a stunning ode to New York City.

Woody Allen made another masterpiece whose main theme is the crisis of the intellectual and his inadequacy to the society he lives in, the problems of ineptitude and the inability of the protagonist to managed his own inner, sentimental life. Isaac, a writer always looking for inspiration, doesn't seem to find the opening words for his book and spends entire days taking notes, at the mercy of love and of a city he loves so much but seems unable to live in.

What makes "Manhattan" such a great film is also its complex, neurotic and verbose characters, who all just want to love and to be loved in return. Because of its characters, it is a film everyone can identify with: if on the one hand there is the inept, Isaac, on the other hand there is the winner, Yale, who is able to live in the world that surrounds him, that's why he is a winner.

As mentioned before, the film is also a spectacular ode to New York. In fact, the gorgeous black and white cinematography by Gordon Willis manages on several occasions to make the Big Apple look like the most fascinating city in the whole world, beauty even more enhanced by the first minutes of the film, when the city wakes up to the tune of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue".

As for the acting, it might be the best of any Allen film. Woody Allen does great with his usual stand-up persona and allowing the character of Isaac to be more than just neurotic and narcissistic. Michael Murphy also does a great job as Yale, able to command our sympathy for the most unlikable character in the film. Diane Keaton gives one of her best performances as the intellectual and whimsical Mary. 

My analyst warned me, but you were so beautiful I got another analyst. - Isaac Davis


  1. This is one film that is in my top to see. I can't believe I still have not seen it. Just from the stills of this film, it looks beautiful

    1. It really it! One of Allen's best, even if he says otherwise.