Woody Allen Tells Us What Works

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Published April 23, 2009

The eighth annual Tribeca Film Festival kicked off eleven days of popcorn with a deadpan address by Larry David. He says that people are bad and that, “they make life so much worse than it has to be.” He continues portentously, “My story is whatever works as long as you don’t hurt anybody.” It’s something Woody Allen might do in, say, Annie Hall, and it would be an excellent send-up, by way of facsimile—were the film not directed by Allen himself in his latest, Whatever Works. David stars as Boris, a neurotic, mysanthropic genius, and what works turns out to be a Southern belle, Melodie (Evan Rachel Wood), who lands on Boris’ doorstep looking for a place to stay. “If you kick me out, and I wind up an Asian prostitute, it will be all your fault.” In the course of the film some things work out, and other things don’t.

One thing that continues to work flawlessly is Allen’s creative faculties; after all, this film comes hot off the heels of last year’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona. “I have no problems coming up with new material.  No problems being prolific,” says the writer and director. All that in spite of an in ability to really enjoy the process. Allen moans, not unlike David in his own film,  “It is all a lot of hard work, a lot of anxiety, a lot of decision making, a lot of waking up early, going to sleep late. Fun is not really and option; it’s a lot of hard work.” Indeed, Allen doesn’t reject comparisons to the cantankerous David. Of the comparison between the two men in the film, Allen says, “I don’t think they will be disappointed.”

LEFT: ALLEN, PATRICIA CLARKSON, HENRY CAVILL AT THE PREMIERE AFTER-PARTY. PHOTO: WALTER MCBRIDE