This wonderful character study of a New York socialite, deeply troubled, who arrives in San Francisco to imposing herself on her sister, is Allen at his best.
He certainly is on form since ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’ and then the wonderful ‘Midnight Hours’ (both of which earned Academy Award recognition) working with actors he trusts; enticing great performances from the talent on show.
Here Cate Blanchet especially is being strongly tipped for the Best Actress category at this years Academy Awards. She is a powerhouse of delusion and energy but the supporting cast of Alec Baldwin, Peter Sarsgaard and Sally Hawkins as the social and cultural opposite to Blanchet are also worth a mention.
The film is full of pathos and some humour and maintains a swift pace throughout; it never outstays its welcome in each scene and keeps the plot firmly on message. Allen is a perceptive director and has created a deeply honest drama with a realistic sprinkling of humour and sadness.
In regards to the setting being in San Francisco: Allen stated he wanted to film in New York and another American city – that he chose San Francisco for no other reason than the moderate weather. However I’m not so sure as San Francisco once enticed people seeking adventure and fortune and therefore has always been a city that is associated with renewal.
Finally it is Allen’s dedication to realism that proves the most impressive feature – like Jean Renoir his work is both realistic and beautifully poetic and superbly written. This is essential viewing…