In Woody Allen’s latest offering, Gen Z heart-throb Timothée Chalamet plays a character named Gatsby Welles. This is only the film’s first red flag. Though A Rainy Day in New York is set in present-day Manhattan, college student Welles is not a modern man. He loves “a cocktail lounge piano” and prefers vintage cigarette holders to the vape pens held by his peers. Ever the gentleman, he volunteers as tour guide to his prim pageant queen girlfriend Ashleigh (Elle Fanning), who is in town to interview middle-aged film director Roland Pollard (Liev Schreiber) for their school paper. She ditches Gatsby for a more mature set of chaperones, including a screenwriter (Jude Law) and a Hollywood actor (Diego Luna), who she charms with her naivety and adorable tics, such as a tendency to hiccup when “sexually conflicted”. Cut to a leering “comedy” set piece as Fanning is locked out of Luna’s apartment in her bra and pants. Characters and storylines appear to have been chosen at random by a Woody Allen meme generator.
The film’s B-plot involves Chalamet avoiding his mother, and reconnecting with an ex’s sparky younger sister (Selena Gomez). Gomez’s smoky, sardonic delivery is wonderful. The same cannot be said for Chalamet, who spends the film shrugging his shoulders, his head shrinking into his neck like an affected, embarrassed turtle.
In light of Allen’s remarks about the #MeToo movement (and, presumably, historical abuse allegations surrounding the film-maker), distributor Amazon Studios returned the film, cancelling its US release. Cast members Chalamet, Gomez and Rebecca Hall also disowned it, donating their salaries to charity. Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro bathes the film in flattering golden light, perhaps in the hope that it might disguise or at least soften the misogyny on screen. This nostalgic aesthetic only makes the film more anachronistic, not exactly making the case for its creator as an artist in touch with contemporary reality.
Source: The Guardian