Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 2002. DreamWorks, Gravier Productions, Perdido Productions. Screenplay by Woody Allen. Cinematography by Wedigo von Schultzendorff. Produced by Letty Aronson. Production Design by Santo Loquasto. Costume Design by Melissa Toth. Film Editing by Alisa Lepselter. Cannes Film Festival 2002.
A has-been, hypochondriac filmmaker (Woody Allen) is given the opportunity of a lifetime when his producer ex-wife (Téa Leoni) throws a giant, big-budget film into his lap and offers him the chance to direct again, over the objections of her studio head boyfriend (Treat Williams). Allen has to endure the personal strife of seeing the woman of his dreams once again after so many years, while also having to deal with the pressures of his possible comeback, which include dealing with a nosy magazine journalist and the ambitions of his airheaded girlfriend (Debra Messing). To make matters worse, his personal psychological neuroses take over his mind and leave him psychosomatically blind, completely unable to see a single thing in front of him. His agent (Mark Rydell) knows that this is the last chance he’ll ever get at a real job unless he pulls it off, so he insists that Allen continue making the film despite his rather limiting condition. Allen’s script pokes good-natured fun at moviemaking in Hollywood, but never displays any of the hypocritical meanness that was so annoying in David Mamet’s State and Main. However, his work’s lack of any bite (other than the odd one-liner) is precisely what robs the film of its necessity: it wanders around for an hour and a half in search of a story and never actually finds one. It’s just as useless a film as last year’s The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, and proves just as equally that Allen has to stop casting himself as a romantic lead in his movies, but where it earns points is that it is not nearly as boring or aggravating as Scorpion was. It also has a fantastically revealing performance by a gorgeous Leoni, who has never looked or acted better.