By Alec Horowitz
It’s only a few minutes in when Boris (Larry David) the main character from Woody Allen’s new picture ‘Whatever Works’ walks up to the camera and starts to talk directly to the audience, telling them that he isn’t the most likable guy and wondering why they would want to listen to his story. His two friends sitting at a table outside a New York City café ask him who’s he’s talking to. He says ‘Those people out there.’ referring to the audience before he starts to complain about the people just staring ahead and the guy eating the popcorn. The character is played pitch perfect by Larry David, as he walks through the street ranting about how life is meanness and laying out what is constantly the reoccurring themes in a Woody Allen film.
Boris meets a young girl (Evan Rachel Wood) outside his apartment and takes her in, after she is begging for food. He rolls his eyes as she tells him stories from the south and being a pregnant queen. He ends up marrying her, as he talks to the camera outside a market in New York City on a rainy day, saying, “Can you believe I married her?” The way Boris talks to the camera is actually quite charming in this film, though. He’s sitting on a couch, he makes a hang motion to the camera and goes “We need to talk for a moment” referring to the audience. Ok, so early on his relationship with the young girl he marries is a bit cringe worthy but it’s not overplayed in a sexual way. Their relationship is more out of respect for each other. Boris needs a young person to keep him going. The young girl thinks he is a genius. Boris meets the young girl’s mother and father (Patricia Clarkson and Ed Begley Jr.) from the south, two God fearing simpletons.
As always though, another common theme in most Woody Allen films is how New York City changes the simpletons from the south. Patricia Clarkson totally changes and becomes an artist. The father discovers his true self. Don’t get me wrong; this film isn’t deep like other Allen films, which had a deeper underlining. A lot of this is recycled from other Woody Allen films. When I told someone about this film, they asked me “didn’t he already make that film”, to which I would say back whatever works.
Though, there’s always something to be said for even a smaller film in the library of 50 or so films Allen has made. Even a smaller film Allen has made has more insight and interesting qualities than fifty percent of the films currently playing in the theater. And besides, if you don’t like the actual film, at least you got to see some beautiful shots of New York City. No one shots New York City like Allen. The film at the end becomes as much about how New York City changes people as much as it’s about the worldview of Allen. Boris doesn’t quite get why anything should be celebrated. He feels people make life so much worst than it has to be. Obviously, this is how Allen feels about it as well.