• Film
  • Rifkin’s Festival: A tedious masterclass

Film review

Rifkin’s Festival: A tedious masterclass

★★ The deja vu comes in thick and fast in this formulaic Woody Allen comedy.

Photo: https://themoviedb.org/

In Woody Allen’s latest, we’re inside familiar terrain that is both a cause for comfort and exhaustion. The titles flash in Windsor Light (the font Allen has used for most of his title sequences since 1977s Annie Hall) then cut to a therapy room full of narrative exposition where we meet Wallace Shawn’s Mort Rifkin, Allen’s latest New York avatar. He’s married to Sue, played by Gina Gerson with signature stylish ease. Sue was once a young, neurotic Sarah Lawrence lit major, she’s now a high-flying film PR. They travel to a sun-kissed San Sebastian for a film festival. Sue is there for the release of a new title that her handsome actor client, Phillipe (Louis Garelle) is starring in. What ensues is an exploration of marital dysfunction and the philosophical ramblings of an ageing has-been intellectual. Shawn’s iconic role in My Dinner with Andre reemerges through Mort, he ponders, “how tough it is to write a great book, not just a great novel but a masterpiece.”

The deja vu comes in thick and fast; not all is tedious, there’s a funny Fellini sequence in which Juliet and The Spirits is reimagined with Allen’s classic Jewish family breakdown, but the reenactments of Jules and Jim and The Seventh Seal hit far more tediously. So there we have it, another upper-middle class marriage in dismay, a mise-en-scène of upscale hotels and bourgeois artist’s homes. This clearly adds nothing new to Allen’s oeuvre and so, Rifkin’s Festival is a masterclass of thesis repetition. ★★