In many ways, “Manhattan” is one of Woody Allen’s best and most personal movies. His relationship with New York is a never ending love story. “He adored it. He idolized it all out of proportion”. The film offers a funny version of Allen’s real life world in which existentialism plays a major role. His character is torn between the intellectual Mary (Diane Keaton), a vengeful ex-wife (Meryl Streep) and a romantic passion for a teenage girl, Tracy (Mariel Hemingway). The film became an instant classic and the shot in which Allen and Keaton sit on a bench to watch the sun rise was later on established as an icon of popular culture. Allen’s 1977 movie “Annie Hall” may have won some major prizes, but this bittersweet follow-up has all the right ingredients; a fantastic cast playing colorful and well drawn characters, a witty, unforgettable dialogue, and a wonderful cinematography by Gordon Willis, who has shot an idealized New York, especially at night, that makes you want to book airline tickets tomorrow morning. Not to mention the beautiful George Gershwin score, notably songs like “S’Wonderful”, “Embraceable You”, “Sweet and Low Down” and “I’ve Got a Crush on You”.
“Manhattan” isn’t just a love letter to the Big Apple; it’s a paean to dreamers and romantics. We don’t see many films like that nowadays, which makes this one stand out all the more. As Allen’s character so famously puts it: “He was too romantic about Manhattan, as he was about everything else”. Woody Allen is and will always be the king of New York.