By Andrew Harwood
Comedy itself is specific, but when it comes to film, it’s a little more vague. Sure, it’s a genre, but it is so much more than that. For the next two weeks, comedy will be the focus for Cinephilia.
For this blog series, I’m splitting comedies into three separate categories: the romantic comedy, the dark comedy and the anarchic comedy. For this week’s focus, grab the tissues and chocolate because we’ll be discussing the romantic comedy.
“Romantic Comedy” (often abbreviated as “rom-com”) can be defined as a subgenre of comedy film that generally focuses on the development of a relationship. The plot usually follows along the line of “boy-meets-girl” and evolves from there.
Everything about the “rom-com” is, for the most part, stereotypical. You have the raucous 30-year-old Wall Street broker who meets the new-in-town aspiring actress, they have a meet-cute, they fall in love, they laugh, someone hurts the other, they reconcile and then the credits roll. Now, of course, not all romantic comedies are like this … but then again, a lot are.
You may be wondering, “how would you know?” Well, I’ve seen a ton of them. And I’m proud of it. Thankfully, because of this, I was able to figure out that not all romantic comedies are stereotypical. In fact, some are clever and fresh. With examples like “Annie Hall,” “500 Days of Summer,” “City Lights,” “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” and, our film of the week, “Manhattan.”
Directed and co-written by Woody Allen, “Manhattan” tells the story of Isaac Davis, played by Woody Allen, a divorced TV writer whose life becomes complicated when he falls for his best friend’s mistress, played by Diane Keaton. This is happening all the while he is dating a 17-year-old student played by Mariel Hemingway.
Shot in black and white, the film opens with a montage of Manhattan, accompanied by a voice-over from Allen himself discussing his lust for New York. From here on, the film takes you around the “city that never sleeps” all the while asking the question, do moral and ethics matter when it comes to love?
Infamous nowadays for its iconic shot of Allen and Keaton on a bench in the foreground of the Queensboro Bridge at dawn, “Manhattan” is more than just a beautifully and meticulously shot film. With brilliant performances from Hemingway, Keaton and Allen, packed together with a witty script and a hypnotizing score from George Gershwin, “Manhattan” is no ordinary romantic comedy.
Don’t trust me? Well, as Hemingway says to Allen in the final minutes of the film, “You have to have a little faith in people.”