Cannes Film Festival 2012:
Woody Allen: A Documentary Review

By Chris Haydon

woody-allen-a-documentary-dAs many of you probably know, I am a huge, devoted and unapologetic Woody Allen fan – for years he has been my favourite filmmaker and despite his recent career being a little shaky, for the man to still be writing and directing feature films every year is beyond admirable. Allen is also an extremely talented prose writer, poet and musician so it seems justifiable that he has his very own documentary and to my stumbling delight, it’s here at Cannes.

Directed by Robert B. Weide, Woody Allen: A Documentary compiles a large quantity of stock footage from his most famous pictures as well as extensive interviews with the man and with those who have worked with him. The film also expresses the gravity of his life-long debt to New York city and allows viewers to understand his fascination and romance with his home.

Interviews with Scarlett Johannson, Diane Keaton, Martin Scorsese and Dianne Wiest offer the best insight to Allen from those who know him best whilst Allen’s personal interviews are littered with the trademark Woody humour you either love or hate.

Thankfully this film isn’t just a big pat on the back to Allen – as highly as I think of him, it’s pleasing to see the true reasoning for crafting this nearing 2 hour documentary piece – that Allen’s affect on cinema is undeniable yet he fails to see why. Allen has always been a man proud to be unnoticed and often he opens up about it to Weide or whoever may be interviewing him at the said time in his life. This film captures the essence of Woody Allen rather than painting him as some sort of cinematic saviour.

Audiences should expect laughs, smiles and an abundance of irony throughout which only makes for sincere and charming viewing. For a Allen fan like me, this film is nothing less than a dream but for those interested in cinema and the impeccable rise of American filmmaking, particularly from the late 60s through to the 90s, you will find lots of usual information and factoids here too. Plus you get to see Allen in some really silly hats. Really silly.

woody collage