When precocious college student, Gatsby (Timothy Chalamet) takes his gushing girlfriend Ashleigh (Elle Fanning) to New York, things don’t necessarily go to plan. As a hot story falls into Ashleigh’s lap whilst interviewing jaded film director Roland Pollard (Lieb Schreiber), ambition starts to pull their day apart…
… becomes lost in translation, without either a redeeming filter or an ironic apology to save it.
Director Woody Allen’s latest love letter to New York finds him unwittingly exposed by his own reverie. In a story of silver-spoon kids floating through life on the breath of their own self-importance, Allen fashions another alter ego in Timothy Chalamet. Embued with all of the old man’s ticks and neuroses, Chalamet and the rest of the cast dutifully berate and whine on cue. However, it’s Allen’s jaded wordplay that dies easiest upon their twenty-something tongues. With diatribes that never pause for even the merest moments of character development, Allen’s pedantic pentameter drowns all, save Lieb Schreiber’s excellent Roland Pollard.
As with other Woody Allen films, everybody has problems and if they don’t have problems then they accuse each other of having problems. Tumbling through these accusations and the inevitable infidelities, Elle Fanning’s Ashleigh is his latest crash landing waiting to happen. Timothy Chalamet fares a little better in a stand-out scene with Cherry Jones, whose parental confession almost mirrors the impact of ‘Call Me By Your Name’. However, any weight of this revelation is quickly dashed under the hooves of a Central Park reconciliation and yet more self-deprecation.
You see Woody Allen films would have you believe that everything is about sex. Where yearning-to-be-cultured is akin to being desirable, Allen’s characters bludgeon each other with insight. However, as they determinedly peck away at each other with increasingly obscure references, they actually expose their director’s own darkest fear: that the person you’re actually hitting on is the one who’ll ultimately deny you your real ‘worldly potential’.
So, in a bid to dodge this worrisome road-block, Woody Allen determinedly rescues both himself and Chamalet with one last piece of romantic pretension. Collapsing his young surrogate in the absolving arms of a even younger woman, their mirrors crack’d become revealingly transparent. In a movie where any slight can be absolved by the blank grasp of a much younger, naive body, ‘A Rainy Day In New York’ becomes lost in translation, without either a redeeming filter or an ironic apology to save it.
That all said, with cinematographer Vittorio Storaro lighting each scene so beautifully, you still might want to pull up a chair. Woody has already brought his. It has ‘Director’ written on it and whilst he knows where the film’ll be going, you might not escape the feeling that it’s somewhere he’d wished he’d been before.