This dark comedy, where the 86-year-old director once again merges with his hero, is a tribute to a cinema he considers lost.
Ostracized since the meetoo wave, Woody Allen comes out wednesday Rifkin’s Festival, a comedy about an aging, sardonic and neurotic moviegoer. This new film looks like a testament for the New Yorker, who admitted his desire to hang up the gloves. The director had already been experiencing difficulties in financing his films for several years; the hurdles have piled up since his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, accused him of sexually molesting her as a child. Neither of the two investigations launched was successful and Woody Allen denies it altogether.
Rifkin’s Festivalavailable online and in a few theaters in the United States, will not be released until Wednesday in France, one of the countries where the public is most loyal to the filmmaker, two years after its presentation at the opening of the San Sebastian festival (Spain). Filmed on location, it features a certain Mort Rifkin, a failed and hypochondriac writer. Actor and playwright Wallace Shawn, close to Woody Allen and accustomed to supporting roles, embodies this Jewish intellectual obsessed with women, religion and the meaning of life – a semi-autobiographical character omnipresent in the East Coast filmmaker.
A former film professor, lover of the great European directors of the 20th century and of the New Wave, Rifkin travels to San Sebastian to accompany his wife, Sue (Gina Gershon). He suspects the latter, press officer in the cinema, to maintain an affair with the director in vogue whom she deals with, and for whom he has the greatest contempt, Philippe (Louis Garrel, perfect in the role of the filmmaker head slapping and nonchalant).
A nod to 20th century European cinema
For his part, Mort will fall in love with another woman, Jo (Elena Anaya), a cardiologist much younger than him, whom he will consult under all pretexts, before trying to free her from the grip of her husband, a passionate but violent artist played by Sergi Lopez. At 86, the author ofAnnie Hall and manhattan does not go off the beaten track. The repartee is sometimes tasty, but the situations somewhat hackneyed, in a comedy in the form of a tribute to 20th century European auteur cinema.
Bergman, Fellini, Godard, Truffaut, Buñuel… The film is sprinkled with nods to the great directors whom Woody Allen venerates, he who makes his character say, sorry for contemporary cinematographic production, that in the history of movie theater, “the Europeans have arrived, and the films have become adults”.
Allen himself appeared weary, during an interview given to actor Alec Baldwin, on the latter’s Instagram account, at the end of June, where he did not rule out his 50th film, which he must shoot in Paris in September, the last. “I’ll probably do that extra movie but a lot of the excitement has evaporated”he blurted out. “I don’t have as much fun making a film and having it shown on the big screen anymore”he added, referring to the arrival of streaming.
He dares everything!
Is Woody Allen like the character of Rifkin’s Festival, overwhelmed by developments in the world around him, and only finding refuge in the classics of the 7th art? In the film, Rifkin dreams, in black and white, replaying in pastiche mode cult scenes from his favorite films, from Jules and Jim at A man and a womanuntil ending up, as in The Seventh Sealto play chess with death (played by Christoph Waltz)… who enjoins him to watch his cholesterol to postpone the deadline!
Crossed during a private screening of the film in Paris, the director Claude Lelouch smiled at the impertinent tribute made by the New Yorker to his cinema: “He dares everything!”he let go, leaving the session.