Josh Brolin is center stage as Roy, an American novelist in London who had one success and has since known nothing but failure. Everything is riding on his getting the new novel right, but meanwhile his wife (Naomi Watts) is pressuring him to start a family and complaining about their lack of money. He looks out the window and starts fantasizing about the young woman (Freida Pinto) in the apartment across the courtyard, who practices her cello every afternoon.
Allen has spent most of his life as a big-shot director, which is great, but it can be a disadvantage in writing seductive banter. A big-shot director can say anything to a young actress and she’ll keep smiling, but the rules are different for a broke middle-aged novelist. When Roy meets the young cellist, he tells her that he’s been staring at her through the window and spying on her with her boyfriend; and instead of throwing up or screaming, she smiles and is intrigued. But only in the film business are women that desperate.
I used to eagerly anticipate each new Woody Allen movie, often going to the theater the day they opened (along with 100 middle-aged Jewish women). That pattern ended with the turgedy “Celebrity,” featuring the worst Woody Allen impression ever by Kenneth Branagh. I left halfway through the terribly dated “Hollywood Ending,” which treated Tea Leoni worse than David Duchovny ever did. I vowed never again after 2008′s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” as pretentious as it was pointless.
It doesn’t look like I’ll be ending my boycott anytime soon. Like “The Simpsons,” Woody Allen has been largely irrelevant since the Millennium.
- Review: Woody Allen’s meandering ‘Dark Stranger’ (sfgate.com)