Thursday, October 9, 2014

Anything Else - Movie Review

In this movie Woody Allen plays an intellectual school teacher Dobel, with rather weird and neurotic ideas. He advises a young comedy writer Jerry Falk on his life and its many shades and complications. You know, whatever life throws at you, its like anything else right?

Jerry meets Amanda, in a typical Woody Allen setting where they are both seeing someone else. They hit it off fabulously while their respective partners look at one another helplessly. Jerry however has difficulty asserting himself and finds it difficult to tell his girlfriend he wants to break off. This is the biggest problem he has - of people riding all over him. He meets a neurotic, school teacher Dobel (Woody Allen, who is preparing for all kinds of eventualities by stocking up rifles and guns and other parts of survival kits) but who is also an extremely knowledgeable man who doubles up as his mentor. This mentor and Jerry walk around Central Park discussing Jerry's life.

Jerry also sees a psychotherapist who is also taking him for a ride, an agent who also takes advantage of the fact that Jerry is too nice to say No. Jerry soon realises that his inability to say No manifests in situations where Amanda stops having sex with him and instead starts having an affair (hinted at by Dobel the great). When questioned she says she had to do it for him because she wanted to know is she was frigid. The way she turns back with her affairs and tells Jerry that she is actually doing it all for him and how Jerry reacts to this piece of generosity from her is hilarious. Not to mention Amanda's mother-in-law who moves into to their house and brings in cocaine snorting youngsters along and still Jerry cannot say No. You can see everyone walking all over him, crowding his spaces and still Jerry is too nice to say No.

Dobel finally convinces Jerry that he should get out of town to get rid of all these people in his life who are taking advantage of him (the agent fakes a heart attack when Jerry refuses to sign the contract) and that he would go along with him. Jerry gets a job and is all set to go to California when Dobel tells him he has to go to Alaska for some reason, thereby giving Jerry a new lease of life to start life afresh, hopefully on his own terms.

Woody Allen's greatest strength is his ability to get into these small spaces which are subtle and fine and uses them to manipulate the bigger picture. He exists there and brings it across clearly. An inability to say No, a pathological urge to be nice to people who are hurting you and till pretend that they are the victims exists in some or many. Allen brings that across brilliantly in all the relationships Jerry has. The only one who really seems to care for him is his neurotic friend and mentor Dobel. Definitely worth a watch.

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