Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. USA, 1994. Miramax, Sweetland Films, Magnolia Productions. Screenplay by Woody Allen, Douglas McGrath. Cinematography by Carlo Di Palma. Produced by Robert Greenhut. Production Design by Santo Loquasto. Costume Design by Jeffrey Kurland. Film Editing by Susan E. Morse. Academy Awards 1994. Golden Globe Awards 1994. Independent Spirit Awards 1994.
John Cusack plays an idealistic playwright in 1930s New York City who decides that, for his latest opus, he will make absolutely no concessions: he will direct it himself to ensure the quality of his work is preserved, and he will have the exact cast that he wants even if they aren’t practical to work with. Unfortunately, once production gets rolling, compromise becomes inevitable, as his leading lady (Dianne Wiest) is an alcoholic who is very picky about everything, his leading man (Jim Broadbent) has a serious food addiction, and to finance the play, Cusack has to accept the offer of a local gangster (Joe Viterelli) and make it worth his while by casting his airheaded girlfriend (Jennifer Tilly) in a crucial role. Even more trouble comes his way when Tilly’s goon bodyguard (Chazz Palminteri) decides to help out with the script. The performances (which also include the marvelous Tracey Ullman) are all among the best of 1994, with praises going to Tilly’s brilliant work and the absolutely astounding Wiest, who has never been more colourful. Gorgeously photographed by Carlo DiPalma, featuring beautiful production by Santo Loquasto, this is one of Allen’s best films in years, and it didn’t get this good again until Match Point.