Deconstructing Harry

Deconstructing Harry

“I’m no good at life.” “No, but you write well.”

By the by, I think that quote up there perfectly sums up Allen’s life and his outlook on his work, not just this film. But still, here we go, another Woody Allen film; though, this one, the last of his to appear on the list, was removed from future editions, so either the editors saw the light in that they had far too much Allen on the list, or there was something underwhelming about this one that merited its replacing. After seeing it, I can believe both, but I’m inclined to lean more toward the former; I’ve seen about four or five of Allen’s films, and while Deconstructing Harry is cut from the same mold, it is definitely a different style of cut – it’s more like Swiss cheese, rather than American, but they’re both cheese.

There’s a little of everything Woody Allen has to offer in Deconstructing Harry. There’s, of course, the neurotically addled main character, played by Allen himself as usual; there’s a large ensemble cast, each with their own role to play in the chaos that is Harry’s writing, adapted visually on the screen as part of the film; and there’s the typical Allen script, smart and crackling, with an ironic sense of the world around his characters. Where Deconstructing Harry differs from the other Allen films, albeit very minimally, is its presentation. Allen goes so far as to imbue the structure of the film itself with his main character’s faults and neuroses, having the film jump cut, often in the middle of a character’s dialogue, just to demonstrate how choppy their own line of thinking is. There’s also a touch of meta to the film; one of Harry’s stories has a film actor, out of touch with his life, becoming literally out of focus in real life (which also affects Harry later in the film, for an even bigger touch of meta); I found that one, and some other bits about the other fictional stories in the film, quite amusing. This also has probably one of the, if not the, most elaborate set pieces I think I’ve ever seen in an Allen film; it was quite the culture shock.

This was just different enough to not feel too repetitive for a Woody Allen film, and as I’m starting to understand with his films, I enjoyed it the whole way through. Now, I can understand why some may not; Allen’s writing may come off as smugly self-serving to some, and they may only see him as writing just out of his own head. That’s understandable, and I do, but for me, when what Allen writes is so passively entertaining, it doesn’t matter if he’s self-indulgent or pretentious or any of the other words someone may throw at him; as long as you’re entertained, then the job has been done, the mission has been accomplished. To some, that may be unacceptable, and they may never get past that and really enjoy a Woody Allen film like I can, but to that I can only say, sorry. To each his own, and to my own, I liked this, and I have a good feeling I’ll like the other Allen films that I have yet to get to.

Arbitrary Rating: 8/10

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