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Rifkin’s Festival, At 85 Woody Allen Remains At His Prime



Rifkin’s Festival, At 85 Woody Allen Remains At His Prime 6

Rifkin’s Festival

Starring  Wallace Shawn, Elena Anaya, Louis Garrel, Gina Gershon, Sergi López, and Christoph Waltz.

Written & Directed by Woody Allen

Rating: *** ½

At 85  Woody Allen continues  to be a master storyteller weaving in and out of privileged lives as they sow what they reap in their hotel suites and  private  villas. Woody Allen has  never been bothered with what goes in outside the world  of  the  wealthy waifs. Why should he? When you can drink champagne for  breakfast lunch and dinner why bother with rum?

 Rifkin’s Festival is  his  49th film.Prolific  and  passionate, Woody Allen remains a phenomenal talent .This film  sparkles with a wispy wit , a cosy warmth  and an  afterglow that is peculiarly Woody Allenish.

His characters  continue  to cheat on their partners , with  or without  the  privilege   of feeling guilty. I don’t think the wife Sue(Gina Gershon) feels  particularly  guilty  about cheating on  her  aging husband  Mort Rifkin(played  by  Wallace Shawn who  Woody aficionados may  recognize   as  the  underrated actor from Woody’s first  film Manhattan). Sue who is  a publicist for a hotshot director Philippe(Louis Garrell) openly ignores her husband whenever the three meet.

 No wonder Mort is  mortified. He heads  for  the  nearest doctor to check on his heart and  falls for her in the way that a 80-year  old man is  not supposed to.But then  if  Woody Allen can be so creatively fertile at 85 why can’t his protagonist remain  sexually  active at  80?

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Not that there is any sex between Mort and  the  comely Spanish doctor  Elena(Jo Rojas). Elena, we understand through her hushed but hysterical telephonic  chats with her  husband which  Mort conveniently overhears,  is  not in a happy marriage. Neither  is he. You get the drift?

The  narrative is  accentuated with stunning scenic  overviews  of San Sebsatian where  a film festival is  the venue for the above quadrangle. Woody’s  regular cinematographer  Vittorio  Storraro  captures  the spirit of San Sebastian  without over-romanticizing the  Spanish  town or making  it look like  a touristic plug.

Mort’s  growing fondness  for  his dishy doctor and  his  disappointment when his  medical reports show nothing amiss remain at the core of this endearing tale  of autumnal passion told without excessive sentimentality.

Since the  mellow romance unravels at a film festival there are some  tongue-in-cheek spoofs on world classics. The distance  and the  close relationship between art and  life has always  fascinated  Woody Allen.  Here  in his  latest  lustrous look at love longing and aging , he  seduces  us  into  a  world  of  ecstasy as experienced by a hopeless romantic who won’t be  sucked  into cynicism .

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