‘A Rainy Day in New York’ fun, but not Allen’s best
February 2, 2021
“A Rainy Day in New York” was just initially released July of 2019. Written and directed by Woody Allen, the story follows a college couple who go to New York for the weekend, and everything goes haywire. Gatsby Wells (Timothee Chalamet) is a distressed, cynical, poker prodigal, who prefers the rain to sun. He plans a bunch of romantic outings for him and his girlfriend, Ashleigh (Elle Fanning) who is written along the lines of a manic pixie dream girl. Almost as soon as they get to New York, Ashleigh has to leave Gatsby in order to pursue her journalism assignment; interviewing one of her favorite film directors, Roland Pollard (Live Schrieber).
Ashleigh excitedly follows Pollard around as he is in the middle of a creative crisis. She gets caught up in Pollard’s world. While trying to get a good story, all these men seem to take a special interest in her. She comforts Pollard’s screenwriter (Ted Davidoff), Pollard describes her as his “muse”, and a famous artist she meets plans on having an affair with her. All this commotion leaves her to forget about Gatsby. The movie does not put her in a bad light though. She is not seen as a careless girlfriend for leaving Gatsby and she isn’t punished later in the script for being ambitious as many films tend to do with strong female characters. (Tippy Hedren’s character in Alfred Hitchcock’s, The Birds being a prime example). I’d praise Woody Allen on Ashleigh’s part in the script. Being an eighty-year-old man, he was still able to capture a moment in this twenty-year-old girls’ life where she was surrounded by all these new people and new experiences that she had never known before, as well as being perused by these big powerful men and, being young, naïve and ambitious she was fascinated by it all.
While Ashleigh is away, the film follows Gatsby lazily walking around New York, smoking a pipe and visiting friends of his. While Ashleighs side of that weekend is hectic, this side of it is slow and romantic. He meets an old friend, Shannon Tyrell (Selena Gomez). She’s the polar opposite of Ashleigh and this creates a strong dynamic between the two female leads. (You can of course assume that Shannon and Gatsby end up together in the end.) I don’t particularly like Selena Gomez as an actress, but I think that she did well in this role. On the other hand, I love Timothee Chalamet as much as the next girl does, but I don’t think he fit the role of Gatsby Wells. He tried his best, but some of his jokes fell flat and he didn’t have a certain Holden Caulfield kind of edge that was needed for this character. Not only that, but the character himself seemed outdated. If Woody Allen had made this movie a period piece, Gatsby would have fit right in but, walking around New York wearing blazers, a collared shirt, and smoking a pipe and just being deemed “eccentric” didn’t fit right with Ashleigh (who Elle Fanning played brilliantly) who was the perfect embodiment of an ambitious millennial.
I think that if you want to get a true feeling for Woody Allen do not watch this movie. Instead watch Manhattan, Annie Hall or Hannah and Her Sisters. Woody Allen has gotten a lot of negativity in the media because of accusations about his personal life. But no matter what people might say about him as a person, he is still a talented artist.
This film has two dynamics which I found interesting to watch. Though I wouldn’t call it comedically genius, it was entertaining and fun to see. The acting from the two female leads was especially notable and even though Timothee Chalamet seemed as though his heart wasn’t really in it, he owned the role the best he could. I think that this movie also would have been received better had it been a period piece, but that was not the case. Gatsby seemed outdated but I thought Ashleigh and Shannon both felt modern. It had a New York feel and he was able to capture the hectic energy of New York with Ashleigh’s side of the story, as well as the slow, urban, beautiful feel of it with Gatsby, because that’s what Woody Allen is all about, New York.