In most of his films, the writer/director has a Woody Allen character. In the early films, Allen himself took on that role. Now he is much older, he generally has a young actor speaking Woody Allen type lines.
It is Timothee Chalamet in A Rainy Day in New York who takes on the character. Chalamet plays Gatsby Welles who sees an ideal opportunity to introduce his student girlfriend, Ashleigh (Elle Fanning) to the Manhattan sites in a romantic weekend when she is invited to interview an older filmmaker, Roland Pollard (Liev Schreiber) in New York, for her college newspaper. All does not work out as he intends though. During a very rainy weekend first Ashleigh is delayed when a depressed Roland sees an honesty in Ashleigh that he doesn’t find elsewhere and invites her to a screening of his current film. Then Pollard disappears and she joins up with his screenwriter, Ted (Jude Law) to try to find him.
All the time, Gatsby is waiting in different wet locations for Ashleigh to join him. She makes one excuse after another and he remains alone. He accidentally meets up with Chan (Selena Gomez), the younger sister of a former girlfriend. At almost the same time, Ashleigh meets a handsome film star, Francisco Vega (Diego Luna) and is bowled over when he invites her to his home. However, it doesn’t go well, and Ashleigh has to leave the film star’s apartment in a rather undignified manner.
Poor Gatsby sees a TV item showing his girlfriend getting into Vega’s car and in a moment of pique pays a prostitute (Kelly Rohrbach) who he meets to play Ashleigh at his parents’ house where she is seen by the guests and his mother for what she is. So, love doesn’t run smoothly for our young lovers. The ending is not quite what we expect but Allen films it charmingly.
Allen’s films always have a lot of film, music and literature references and this one is no different. He composes his films like a series of artistic pictures and his cinematographer (Vittorio Storaro) has done a grand job of showing us around New York. Music, too, is always fitting as Allen not only has a background of playing an instrument but has a real appreciation and knowledge of what works in his films. Here there is a good choice of music and songs and lots of jazz. Elle Fanning is a delightful leading lady – charming and amusing – and Timothee Chalamet does his best to interpret Allen’s lines.
The writing is frequently clever and there are some very witty lines. He never puts extra scenes in a movie, so this film is shorter than many inferior rom-coms around at the moment! However, it is certainly not one of Allen’s top films. Showing what a romantic comedy can do is what Allen does best and even in this minor film amongst Allen’s oeuvres, we frequently recognise a master at work.
Available on digital download from 5 June.