Friday, 23 July 2010

Whatever Works (Woody Allen, 2009)

After having been recommended to me months ago, I finally got to see Whatever Works. Having been directed by Woody Allen, and after I was told the main character shared some personality traits and opinions with myself, I expected to like the film. It surpassed my expectations. Whatever Works develops around some months of Boris Yellnikov's life, a man who describes himself as the one person who sees "the big picture", a genius, a physicist who was considered for a Nobel Prize and the only character to know he is inside a film hopefully being watched by a whole lot of real people in the cinema. To illustrate this and to introduce some comic-relief into his hard, misanthropist, sceptic speech, he ends the first scene talking directly to the public. In his first apparently out of character behaviour, he takes in a runaway naive girl from Mississippi who he ends up marrying. Their relationship keeps the film running, shows how their personalities influence each other (not always as would be expected) and brings into scene her parents, who are themselves quite interesting characters, or, to be more accurate, become very interesting characters as they undergo "complete makeovers".
Even though Boris keeps talking about everyone around him imbecile inchworms, the story ends in the New Year celebration with a lot of people in his house seemingly quite happy to be in his and each other's company.
With Whatever Works, Allen illustrates hypocrite contemporary civilization, where geniuses can go unrecognised and eventually seen as neurotic fools, or can be restrained by the demands of society only to be found by sheer luck, where people can learn how relative human life is and still feel like running off after an adventurous romance or get tired of a typical everyday life and decide to photograph artistic nudes. All that seems to matter is that each one must do "whatever works" best in order to be as happy as possible, hence the title. The film excels in showing all this and more with just a handful of great characters and a very well designed plot.
Of course one doesn't have to agree with all this, most people have their own ideas on what is good or bad, what should or has to be asked of each human being or even what can be disregarded and what must be forbidden. But, all things considered, isn't that imposing on others your own "whatever works", even if you believe you are doing it for the greater good? This is one piece of art that will probably end up leaving you with some interesting questions and ideas to consider. These were some of mine.

I'd rate Whatever Works 9 out of 10 for achieving all you can ask of this kind of film and more, though I don't feel like I'll be watching it over and over again as I do with my absolute favourite ones.

1 comment:

  1. Definitely need to see it! I usually like Woody Allen's films, so... :)