next to annie hall this is probably my favorite woody allen picture. it has the serious philosophy and moral difficulties of match point and cassandra’s dream (vise versa actually) and some of the humor you’d expect from a woody allen picture. the film’s serious center revolves around the dialectic between idealism and reality. the idealistic characters (sam waterson the blind (literally and metaphorically) rabbi and woody allen the principled documentary filmmaker) don’t fare well, while the so-called realists (martin landau, alan alda, etc.) make various compromises and make out just fine.
when match point came out people said it was a very different film for woody allen. in truth, it was essentially just a remake of half this film. the same could be said for cassandra’s dream. this film, though, is better than both because it’s deeper, more well filmed and has even more meat to it. speaking of the cinematography – sven nykvist worked with bergman for much of his career and joins forces with allen here. he’s usually lauded for his use of light, but here his use of space is what’s most impressive. he moves the camera in and out of spaces well and uses space to convey emotions. my favorite example is probably when allen sees his former crush after her visit to london. the camera is tight on allen when he sees her enter and zoomed out when it shows her with (allen’s nemesis) alan alda. it cuts back and forth between the two shots a couple times, but keeps this scale to emphasize her distance from him. it perfectly summarizes his feelings toward her at that moment. great film.