Manhattan - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Manhattan Reviews

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Super Reviewer
December 5, 2010
This is a classic Woody Allen film, complete with all the classic Woody Allen hallmarks, and, you know what? I actually had to watch it twice because upon completion of one viewing, I was actually stunned and unable to really decide how I felt about the film. That sort of thing almost never happens, either. It was weird. I watched it, and truly was unable to decide how I felt. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it. So, I gave it another watch, and any sort of issues I had with this film (it mostly has to do with the unlikeability and unsympatheticness of the characters) kinda worked themselves out on the second viewing.

I actually like that the characters, especially Woody's are rather slimy, creepy jerks. It adds to the fun and nuttiness of it all. That, and it takes real talent to successfully pull off a dramedy where a twice divorced 42 year-old is dating a 17 year-old girl whom he doesn't love, despite the strong feelings she has for him. Plus, there's lots of typical pretentious conversations about art, music, and philosophy that just really sing. Also, this was the first time Allen made not only a black and white film, but one that was also visually stunning, something that doesn't apply to the vast majority of his works.

This is a true love letter to Manhattan, and the gorgeous cinematography, excellent Gershwin score, and Allen's crisp writing make it truly the masterpiece that everyone hails it to be, and I think this film really truly does stand the test of time since I was forced to give it multiple watches and lots of thought before deciding how I really felt about it. Now THAT's a sign of genius.
Super Reviewer
December 9, 2013
It struggles to engage throughout, but it has a strong start, great acting, and is definitely worth seeing as so to experience the genius of Woody Allen's witty humor.
Super Reviewer
March 11, 2013
This classic's use of location is close to perfect, but unfortunately the story taking place in this romanticized metropolis is at its best standard and at its worst a bit creepy. If you've seen Annie Hall, the rambling wit and wisdom here is pretty much identical. If not for the beauty of the cinematography, I'd be hard pressed to find anything particularly special about this as opposed to more focused and more unique Allen movies.
Super Reviewer
July 31, 2012
Great self analytical, poignant, romantic, bittersweet Woody Allen, beautifully shot in black and white.
Super Reviewer
½ April 24, 2007
Quite possibly the quintessential Woody Allen film: a writer, New York, adultery, divorce, underage love affairs, malaise at the quality of mainstream entertainment (television, particularly), beautiful black-and-white cinematography and a last line for the ages, a real zinger with a virtual wink and nod from the director himself. A film for malcontents, seemingly, but one that's actually quite joyous. If you've never seen Allen's work before, this might very well be the best one to start with... says the guy who still hasn't seen Annie Hall...
Super Reviewer
½ January 20, 2008
Typical Woody Allen film. I liked the black and white, but was constantly irritated by his 42 year old character and his 17 year old girl friend. Really seemed gross to me. Plus the ending, could have throttled the selfish git!
This all predates his whole Soon-Yi scandal, so I don't know why it was such a shock of a storyline.
I respect him as a director, but as a person he creeps me out.
Super Reviewer
½ February 1, 2010
Rhapsody in NYC.

Very good film! Woody Allen's homage to the city he loves, and it's no surprise if the way he shows it to us is the way he sees it, it truly is amazing. This is such a complex movie, full of surprises and subtlety. It is also a love story of a city. Certainly the central drama would not be as powerful as it is without the beautiful, somewhat sad and evocative black & white photography by Gordon Willis which romanticizes Manhattan giving it a poetic quality. We can almost smell and touch the city and that is part of the reason the characters become so real. All in all, this is a great little gem and one that you should see if you like Woody Allen, romantic comedies, or, really, movies.

In Manhattan, Isac Davis is a divorced writer of TV shows unhappy with his job. His ex-wife left him to live with another woman and is writing a book about her relationship with Isac. He presently dates a seventeen years old high-school student, Tracy, who is in love with him, but he does not like her. When he meets Mary Wilkie, the mistress of his married best friend Yale, he has a crush on her. He finishes with Tracy and has an affair with Mary, affecting the lives of many persons including his own.
Super Reviewer
½ September 8, 2007
With lush background Gershwin tunes done by the New York Philharmonic and the foreground being the city itself shot in noir-ish black and white, and one has the makings of a classic cinema showpiece. Only at the heart of all this hugeness are intelligent people (who go to museums, discuss books, paintings, philosophical ideas, even sex ...) who know everything but themselves, lonely souls bitterly confused by their empty lifes, empty because of their low opinion of themselves. The smartest person in the film hasn't gone to college yet, is only 17 years old, only knows that when she is happy: keep it. What's Allen trying to say? Its an interesting conversation ...
Super Reviewer
January 28, 2010
Truly amazing. Allen's most visually beautiful film with an incredible screenplay executed by a team of incredible actors. Full review later.
Super Reviewer
½ November 5, 2006
If Annie Hall has a less charming, pretentious but much more physically attractive sibling, then Manhattan is that sibling. Unfortunately this movie kind of personifies everything about Woody Allen that I've come to outgrow (the over-the-top neuroticism, the overtly pretentious caricatures/characters.) But for as annoying as Manhattan's characters are all is forgiven with Gordon Willis' truly, truly beautiful photography and Woody Allen's direction. Manhattan is definitely overrated but every hypnotic and mesmerizing work of art image puts you in a really forgiving mood by the end.
Super Reviewer
½ March 1, 2008
Woody before going senile. My only problem is that this was one of the few times i felt Woody should had cast somebody else in the lead role. It was a bit hard to believe that a character like Isaac could attract several good looking and smart women. One of them being 17 years old. Neverless, a good film about human relations.
Super Reviewer
½ March 6, 2011
Not a bad movie, by any means, just not my favorite type of Woody Allen film. The caricaturesque Woody makes the screen shine every time he's in front of it, and from behind, he elicits wonderful performances from the incredible Diane Keaton and the underused Meryl Streep. Manhattan is based on a terrific, subtle script (albeit incredibly pretentious at times) and marked by the beautiful music of George Gershwin. The stunning black-and-white photography is the single greatest aspect of this classic film.
Super Reviewer
½ March 22, 2007
A middle aged writer juggles relationships with a seventeen year old student, a journalist and his lesbian ex-wife to the backdrop of the New York City skyline. I don't think I can watch Woody Allen any more. Well, not the Allen responsible for this kind of self-absorbed, self-justifying pretentious bullshit. Manhattan is basically just a soap opera populated with terminally self-involved people whom I just wanted to punch in the face. I hated very single one of the smug, pretentious, modern artist name-dropping, modern jazz loving, therapist discussing, insufferable lot of them. I've always despised people like this and listening to them drone on about their relationships with one another made me want to spray the screen with indiscriminate automatic weapons fire. It's very attractively shot and the opening montage featuring the sights and sounds of New York made me want to drop everything and grab a flight there right now, but what followed made my bile levels reach critical mass. If you're one of "them", you'll probably love it though.
Super Reviewer
½ December 7, 2010
Oh "Manhattan", it's so great because it's not even awkward that Woody Allen is dating a 17 year old. It's not even awkward that that relationship is the healthiest in the film. It's not even awkward that she is the voice of reason in the picture. "Manhattan" is just so delightful and unexpected and ultimately honest and funny. Allen and Diane Keaton are extremely memorable (a visit to the planetarium is unforgettable) and Meryl Streep is fun as his bitter, lesbian, ex-wife. Vintage Woody Allen in all the best ways.
Super Reviewer
January 23, 2010
"Everyone gets corrupted. You have to have a little faith in people."

First of all, I loved the decision to shoot this in black & white. It makes the city look completely beautiful, and it gives the whole thing a timeless feel. It suits the movie perfectly.

Manhattan is basically about people that don't want what they have. Until they don't have it, of course. Then they want it desperately. Woody Allen's character Isaac is the worst offender. He tosses away jobs and girlfriends on a whim or an inkling of something more appealing on the horizon. Most of other main characters aren't much better. The story is encompassed within that circle of friends and relationships.

I didn't find Manhattan to be as relatable and appealing as some of Allen's other movies that I've seen. The humorous dialogue didn't seem to be as sharp as I've come to expect, and there was really only one remotely likeable character out of the lot. The ending is strong, thankfully, and that lessened the mild sense of disappointment that I felt about the film.

Okay, but I don't consider it to be one of Woody's best.
Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
½ February 24, 2010
Woody Allen begins Manhattan with a voice-over, declaring his intimate love for the city, while a series of beautiful black-and-white shots takes us around the various locations of the city. The opening sequence ends with a breathtaking shot of fireworks going off, seemingly right inside the skyscrapers themselves. Somehow Woody Allen picks the perfect location and time for shooting this scene, and it's amazing footage. Underneath Allen's voice-over, we hear the old-timey jazz numbers that have become ubiquitous with his films and are peppered throughout the movie. It's rare to see a film evoke such passion for a location. Allen's manhattanites are also idealized, though in outward appearance only. Isaac (Allen) is a writer on a television sketch show (something along the lines of SNL), a job he doesn't like very much. He'd prefer to work on his book. His friend Yale (Michael Murphy) is also a writer, although of more intellectual pursuits. He's married but is also seeing someone on the side. Meanwhile, Isaac is dating a 17-year old high school student named Tracy (Mariel Hemingway), but he refuses to take her affection seriously as she's way too young. As he says "I'm older than her father... I'm dating a girl wherein, I can beat up her father". He's very attracted to Yale's mistress, the highly intellectual Mary (Diane Keaton). One gets the feeling this is the sort of New York Allen would like to live in; where the city is free from dirt and crime and the women are all beautiful intellectuals and love W.C. Fields movies. But it's far from the perfect universe: the film shows what happens when intellectual logic runs into irrational love, what happens when people who analyze everything are forced to look into themselves. Isaac is the only one in his world who refuses to morally compromise, so is it any wonder he looks to a 17-year old girl for love (the age when every kid is an idealist crusader)? It's an oddly logical love story.
Super Reviewer
December 16, 2009
I fell in love with this movie upon my first viewing.
Super Reviewer
½ October 20, 2007
One of the best romantic comedies I've seen. Allen makes all the right choices here, electing for a black and white backdrop instead of the traditional color scope, also spicing up this story with sharp dialogue and sound plotting. The ending is perfect in its own way too, not really a downer, nor a formulaic "everything's ok" moment, but instead he leaves you sort of hanging. Sometimes this is a terrible idea, but here, like the rest of the movie, it's a brilliant choice.
Super Reviewer
July 13, 2008
Lush, layered, and lovely. My #2. Even though Woody never thinks of himself as an actor, I see it in him the most with this film. And I don't know if the tracking shot of Isaac running was an homage to Truffaut's Les Quatre Cents Coups, but I find it funny that he even runs like Antoine Doinel.
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