Another Woman

Woody Allen’s 18th feature (1988) gives us more Scandinavian gloom and culture vulturism about guilty, well-to-do non-Jews in Manhattan, shot by Bergman cinematographer Sven Nykvist in suitably drab weather and loosely patterned after Wild Strawberries. The intellectual protagonist, well played by Gena Rowlands (she’s a philosophy professor, natch), is suffering a midlife crisis, focusing on her love life and her decision not to have children; she’s also trying to write a book, and her imagination and memories are stimulated when she overhears the psychiatric sessions of a pregnant woman (Mia Farrow) in the flat below. Allen has assembled a sterling cast that also includes Philip Bosco, Betty Buckley, Blythe Danner, Sandy Dennis, Gene Hackman, Ian Holm, John Houseman (in one of his last performances), Martha Plimpton, David Ogden Stiers, and Harris Yulin, but at best they can only make the self-flagellation marginally more bearablethey can’t really transcend the aura of glitzy, suicidal chic that makes this an insult to intellectuals and a piece of posturing phoniness designed to awe spectators who like their psychodramas third-hand and upscale. To Allen’s credit, however, at least one of the laughs in this film is intentional. (JR)

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