Oh look, that new Woody Allen film is finally coming out in the States, the one with Timothée Chalamet and Selena Gomez. Huh. Guess it’d be interesting to review that, to see if it’s any good after all this time and fuss. But do I want to? I mean, should I really be participating in giving this man’s work a platform? There’s no screener, I’d have to rent the movie; that’s literally giving him money…
A Rainy Day in New York – Summary
A Rainy Day in New York is written and directed by Woody Allen, and stars Timothée Chalamet and Elle Fanning as a young White couple who go to university together in upstate New York. When Ashleigh (Fanning) lands an interview with an acclaimed director down in NYC, Gatsby (Chalamet) decides he will use the twenty thousand dollars he just won playing poker to treat her to the fanciest trip to NYC possible. Obviously, nothing goes as planned.
Sounds harmless enough.
Alright, look. I’m going to spoil the entirety of this film’s plot in this review. I don’t think that’s a big deal, because
1) there isn’t much at all to spoil,
2) if you’re reading this article, you’re almost definitely aware that every Woody Allen film is essentially identical to every other Woody Allen film, and
3) I think a play-by-play really illustrates every piece of this film’s…interesting-ness.
If you do really want to go into A Rainy Day in New York blind, but still know my general thoughts beforehand, skip down to the section titled Final Thoughts. If you don’t care about spoilers and/or do care about my in-depth review, read on, ’cause we are gonna get INTO it.
Welcome to NYC, Again
We open on a college campus, with Gatsby explaining through narration his woes as a young man without direction Oh my word it’s so bad; this isn’t nails on a chalkboard, this is knuckles on a cheese grater. A moment later, he meets up with his girlfriend, and begins to speak Wooowww. It is immediately apparent that Chalamet, unfortunately, is not able to pull off the Woody Allen-surrogate role quite as well as others have Jesse Eisenberg at least sounded at home with this dialogue. However, Fanning is quite decent as Ashleigh, infusing her character with as much verve and cheeriness as possible.
Thirty seconds later, we’re back in Allen’s stomping ground, and NYC has never looked flatter I guess he ran out of interesting places to film, it’s just streets and hotel rooms now. From here, Gatsby and Ashleigh go their separate ways, not to meet again until the night is over. Ashleigh meets the director Roland Pollard, played well enough by Liev Schreiber; she is quickly overwhelmed by his openness Hold on. Roland Pollard. As in Roman Polanski…you’ve gotta be kidding me. Roland, it turns out, is in the middle of an artistic crisis Lemme guess, he needs a muse. As Ashleigh tries to reassure him, Roland tells her she reminds him of his first wife, who was also named Ashley And lemme guess, this is gonna get creepy. He then invites her to a private screening of his new film WE’RE OFF TO THE RACES!!
Meanwhile, as Gatsby learns of the changes to his precious plans, he of course internally mopes and whines This narration will not stop being sandpaper on my eyelids, and wanders the streets. When he encounters an old high school friend shooting a film Shoutout to Griffin Newman, the first one to donate his salary from this film to RAINN, he asks Gatsby to be in a shot with a young woman. That woman turns out to be Selena Gomez Oh wow a person of color, this is new ground for Allen playing Chan, the younger sister of Gatsby’s ex Ohhhhh no how old is she. The director, of course, asks them to kiss Here we go.
Three Men and a I Promise She’s Not a Minor
A Rainy Day in New York, as you might expect, continuously crosscuts between Gatsby and Ashleigh until they reunite at the end of the night. But let’s stick with Ashleigh for a bit, shall we?
At the private screening, Ashleigh and Roman, I mean Roland, are joined by the film’s screenwriter Ted, played by Jude Law Well, Jude Law is fun in everything he’s in, and at least Ted seems nice. While Ashleigh enjoys the film, Roland can’t stand it, and storms out in search of a drink. Afraid that he might hurt himself, Ted goes after Roland, and since she’s got nothing else to do, Ashleigh goes with him. But before they can find him, Ted accidentally stumbles upon his wife having an affair Of course; Ashleigh helps him calm down Oh no, he’s gonna become attached to her, dang it Jude Law! Thankfully, before anything can happen, Ted confronts his wife, which leads to a nasty argument and Ashleigh being sent to the studio lot alone to find Roland.
Instead of finding Roland though, Ashleigh encounters another man, the megastar Francisco Vega Why are YOU in this, Diego Luna??, who instantly looks her up and down and asks her if she has any plans for dinner NOOO You’re not even HIDING it, Woody you dolt! Ashleigh, who has and will continue to grow ditzier and ditzier with every passing minute, accepts his offer Of course she does. The dinner scene serves the function of reassuring the audience that Ashleigh is old enough to drink Subtle.
Eventually, Ashleigh ends up at a fancy party, where all three men are. One by one, they each confess their desire for her. Ashleigh (VERY drunk by this point) brushes Roman I mean Roland and Ted off, and goes with Francisco back to his place. Here, Ashleigh stops and gives a monologue to herself; even though he’s a much older, very famous and powerful man, and even though she is way too drunk, it is okay to sleep with him SSSUUUBBBTTTLLLEEE. And then thanks to shenanigans she is locked out on a fire escape at night in the rain in barely more than a trench coat.
Oh, and in case it wasn’t clear, this is ALL played for laughs.
What’s Wrong with Privilege?
And now, back to Gatsby.
Since he doesn’t have any plans anymore, Gatsby’s chief goal is to avoid a party his mother is throwing; you see, this rich kid hates rich people, as they are the worst uh huh. So, after he bumps into Chan again, Gatsby decides to hang with her for the day uh huh. Gatsby explains to Chan that he can’t stand his mother’s privileged friends uh huh. Chan agrees to entertain him, but before she can go anywhere, she has to change into a miniskirt uh huh. They go to the MET, where Chan reveals she always had a crush on Gatsby uh huh. But he runs into his aunt there, which means he’ll have to go to the party anyway. Gatsby explains again to Chan that he can’t stand his mother’s privileged friends uh huh. And then:
And then Chan responds by asking him why, if that’s the case, he still lives as they do …oh snap. Did this just get interesting? Chan tells him he can’t complain about the hand that feeds him, then leaves Did this just get INTERESTING???
When Gatsby does arrive at the party, he arrives with an escort he’s paid to play the part of Ashleigh. However, his mother quickly deduces the scheme, and sends her away. She confronts Gatsby and tells him he’s not to fraternize with such people Wow. Gatsby comes back at her, accusing her of being too judgmental, and too comfortable with her privilege Where’s this going? But Gatsby’s mother then explains: she too was a prostitute once, who together with Gatsby’s father, used her savings to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and earn their privilege OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. This revelation is enough to help Gatsby overcome his issues with the rich WHAT and accept his privilege as the magnificent heirloom it is HOW IS THIS THIS BACKWARDS.
- There’s a blink-and-you-miss-it moment with Griffin Newman and Chalamet regarding Jeb Bush. It’s hilarious.
- There’s a scene involving a “cocktail piano.” It’s cliché, but it impressed me.
- Selena Gomez is pretty great.
…and that’s about it.
The Last Woody Allen Film
In the end, Ashleigh chocks the entire day up to a quirky incident that proves she’s attractive. Gatsby then breaks up with her to be with Chan, who apparently doesn’t care how entitled he is, and who definitely is a minor. And that’s A Rainy Day in New York.
Is the direction good? I mean, technically. Is the dialogue good? It’s Woody Allen dialogue, so it depends if you like that kind of thing. Are the performances good? Mostly. Is the cinematography good? Yes. Is the editing good? Fine. Is the production design good? Very. Is the music good? Definitely. Does any of that matter? Absolutely not But doesn’t it?
Woody Allen’s A Rainy Day in New York actively postulates that women are objects to either be desired or despised. That when a famous man, or any man for that matter, wants a woman, it is the woman’s honor to be wanted. That is disgusting. But what about Annie Hall? Woody Allen’s A Rainy Day in New York also advocates for people to, when faced with the choice of renouncing their privilege or being proud of it, be proud of it. That is repulsive. But what about Midnight in Paris?
We need to stop liking Woody Allen and his films. But am I being fair to him? After all, this film was made DURING the initial #MeToo thing, not as a response to it; he wasn’t being malicious. Woody Allen and his films are not important or good enough to justify his horrendous behavior. But did he really molest Dylan Farrow as a child? We don’t really know for sure. It’s really kind of complicated. And let’s be real: too many of them are indirectly ABOUT the repugnant things he’s done. But Soon-Yi is technically not his step-daughter, and wasn’t she of age when they started seeing each other? Is any of the things he’s done on the same level as some of the others? It’s time to move on. But does it have to be? Can’t I still like his movies and just not think about the bad stuff? I want answers!
A Rainy Day in New York – Final Thoughts
To call Woody Allen’s A Rainy Day in New York deeply problematic and incredibly sexist is ultimately not only an act of redundancy, it’s giving the film too much credit. A Rainy Day in New York is, in reality, nothing more than the cinematic equivalent of cisgendered heterosexual White male air.
Which is maybe why, despite everything, I…kinda enjoyed it.
After all, there’s a reason we call the works of Isabel Sandoval or Cheryl Dunye ‘breaths of fresh air.’ This cishet White male vapor is what we are (or hopefully were) constantly forced to choke down in the US cinematic landscape from the word ‘go.’ It’s full of smoke and chemicals, and reeks of staleness. But thanks to peer and social pressures, we inevitably get hooked anyway. Eventually, we try to quit, to find new and better things to breathe. And sometimes, we get away from it for awhile. This year has certainly been a good one for that. But every now and then, we catch a whiff of it again, and all the comforts of our old vice come flooding back, and we just can’t help but enjoy it, no matter how much it’s killing us.
A Rainy Day in New York is now playing in select cinemas, and is available to rent or purchase digitally and/or on physical media.
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