Everyone Says I Love You

Music has always been crucial to Woody Allen's movies. Whether the score is hot Dixieland, or Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue (without which Manhattan would be nowhere near as great as it is), or whether he's pausing in Annie Hall or Radio Days to let Diane Keaton reveal her sweet singing voice, the thread uniting his movies, apart from his obvious comedic sense, has always been a persistent, upbeat musicality. So it shouldn't surprise anyone that this eclectic filmmaker — who has made homages to everything from silent comedies to documentaries to foreign masters like Bergman and Fellini — should decide to make a musical. And, given Allen's remarkable track record, it should surprise no one that the results are utterly enchanting.

Everyone Says I Love You is not a "musical" the way Scorsese's New York, New York was — there's no effort to recreate the glossy, soundstage magic of the Vincente Minnelli-Gene Kelly forties and fifties. Instead, we have a familiar Woody Allen movie — filmed on real streets and in real apartments — in which a merry-go-round of lovestruck neurotics sing Cole Porter and others at the drop of a hat. The actors sing whether they can or not. With the exception of Drew Barrymore, everybody goes for it in his or her own voice, come what may.

Goldie Hawn and Alan Alda are the mother and father to the hyper-extended, Hannah And Her Sisters-esque family at the heart of the story. As in Hannah, Allen casts himself as the female star's first husband; his daughter from that marriage (newcomer Natasha Lyonne) sets him up with Julia Roberts, who plays a romantic devotee of psychoanalysis. Meanwhile, Ed Norton (best-known for his picture-stealing performance in Primal Fear) is the young idealist trying to win the heart of Drew Barrymore, who in this jumbled context is Alda's grown daughter by a previous marriage.

Roberts hasn't been this great in years — Allen locates a very natural, oddball, deeply appealing nuttiness in her that the Hollywood star machine has tried, stupidly, to suppress. And if neither she nor Woody can sing, so what? They fail deliciously. Norton, by contrast has a particularly fine tenor voice. As he sings "Just You, Just Me" to Barrymore in the opening sequence, nannies with strollers, elderly folks with walkers, and homeless people asking for handouts all join in at the chorus. But while Hollywood conventions are lovingly spoofed at every opportunity, the complex agonies and joys of romantic relationships are also alluded to, and done justice. There is a particularly magnificent moment of remembrance and reconciliation danced with giddy beauty by Hawn, along a Seine riverbank. But the purpose here is never dark exploration; it is to show dull care the door, and let delight reign supreme. As in Allen's best films, it does.

Copyright Mr Showbiz.com