....his determination to be inadequate, his conceit as a lover, his anxiety of the pressures of a big, noisy family...

EVERYONE SAYS I LOVE YOU

An Illusion review by Joan Ellis


                All of Woody Allen is right here in "Everyone Says I love You."  The movie is shot through with his own determination to be inadequate, his conceit as a lover, his anxiety over the pressures of a big noisy family, his determination to fly free of it all--and to take us with him.  He takes flight, literally this time, by breaking into song. 

                If bursting into song isn't easy to do in real life, why not do it by reaching back to those marvelous musical comedy romances of the 30s and 40s where a few featherweight strands of story connected sudden eruptions of song and dance?  Fred Astaire pioneered the form.  He and a string of partners played the mismatched couple competing in comic combat before falling wildly in love--all to the extraordinary rhythms of Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, and George Gershwin. 

                How better to escape the real world than to imagine a perfect one through song and dance?  "Everyone" opens with Edward Norton and Drew Barrymore singing their way through their lighthearted romance, and ends with Woody Allen and Goldie Hawn reenacting the night they first danced by the Seine in Paris.  It is a marvelous piece of choreography heightened by special effects that lets Goldie Hawn float magically through the air to lift both of them out of their lives for a moment.   

                Whenever the magic of song is over, the songsters are plunked back into the reality of the agitated, very rich Upper East Side family that sings its own way through trifling troubles.  Goldie Hawn, a mother of the guilty liberal persuasion, brings home a sociopath (Tim Roth) for Thanksgiving dinner.  He responds by seducing her daughter, who is looking for adventure on the dark side.  Patriarch Alan Alda fusses and fumes in song and mutters Woody Allen's lines exactly as they should be said. 

                So there it is:  Woody Allen's Manhattan people bursting into song in a hospital deathbed scene, in a funeral parlor, by fountains and rivers in Paris, Venice, and New York.  No sooner does one of them lift a note than a chorus of waiters, pedestrians, or ghosts swings into supportive choreography.  It's all about the ridiculous and wonderful leaps and moves of planned exuberance.

                There is easy pleasure in watching the non-singing legends of the movie world squeak out their dreams in song.  Summoned by Allen, the masterly explorer of angst, they seem game and happy to be doing something new at his request. 

                We might be forgiven for wondering just how long Woody Allen can go on playing the anguished lover caught in the rhythmic whining that is his perpetual beat.  The answer: for as long as we line up to watch it.  It seems that rather than change his own life, he finds it easier to film what he wishes life could be.  The sad part is that in all his films, the house lights always come up on his dreams.


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