Review: A RAINY DAY IN NEW YORK Is Woody Allen On Autopilot

3 out of 5 stars

A Rainy Day In New York is Woody Allen’s 48th film as writer-director and while it’s far from his best work, it does have a certain amount of zing to it. Not bad for a director who is now in his 85th year!

Rainy Day In New York sees Gatsby (Timothée Chalamet) and Ashleigh (Elle Fanning) plan for romantic weekend in the Big Apple to go alongside her assignment to interview famed film director Roland Pollard (Liev Schreiber). However, Ashleigh’s interview takes a variety of twists and turns which lead to Gatsby getting into his own adventures as he wanders the streets of New York alone on an eventful rainy day. 

A Rainy Day In New York is episodic in its nature and because of this it feels disjointed, lurching from one event to another. It plays like a series of random scenes without any real connective tissue, as if Allen had pages with these characters doing certain things and then decided to work them into a screenplay. 

Woody Allen continues to create films which sit within their own world, where the characters speak in their own particular patois and this latest effort is no different. In recent years Allen has tapped a variety of leading men to act as his cinematic stand-in and this time around it’s Timothée Chalamet’s turn to play his latest on-screen avatar. The young Call Me By Your Name star rocks Allen’s trademark tweed and chino combo, hitting the right enunciations and stammers to replicate the director’s well-known vocal stylings. He doesn’t quite pull it off though, and there’s something quite funny about the fact that Allen doesn’t even attempt to have his young cast make 21st century cultural references. It’s as if the last four decades never happened. The most cutting-edge thing on display here is an iPhone (which is something, I suppose). 

Elle Fanning fares even less well than Chalmet.  Her character flits between Jude Law, Diego Luna and Liev Schreiber as she’s pulled into the orbit of movie writers, actors and directors. For a man who has made a career out of crafting strong female characters he has failed to do so this time around. Fanning just doesn’t have the the maturity to pull-off the material, something that Scarlett Johansson might have been able to manage a decade or so ago. 

Not bad by any stretch of the imagination, A Rainy Day In New York is Woody Allen on autopilot. It lacks clarity and focus, but it does give you that New York hit that you would hope to get from an Allen feature. It’s an amiable enough time passer at a little of an hour and a half, but it’s certainly not in the same league as something like Annie Hall or Manhattan.