|Larry David as Boris in Whatever Works|
After a run of more serious – and hit and miss – films, Woody Allen brings us Whatever Works which is in the style of his best stuff, such as Annie Hall and Celebrity. As in the latter – and the more recent films - he stays behind the camera. On this occasion, he lets the brilliant Larry David take the lead role.
Larry David plays Boris, a New Yorker who is a self-professed genius with a pessimistic view on life. After meeting Melody (Evan Rachel Wood - The Wrestler, Across the Universe), a young woman who has ran away from her Mississippi home, he reluctantly takes her in as a lodger. As their friendship develops, he begins to shape her world views and she quickly becomes less naive and more cynical than she once was. Things get more complicated, however, when her parents eventually show up. -all with hilarious consequences, of course.
Although the above synopsis may sound dangerously close to soppy and cliched, trust me, it is not. As Boris tells us from the off (via Woody Allen-esque monologues to camera) this is not the feel good movie of the year and that if you want to feel good you should get a foot massage.
|Evan Rachel Wood as Melody in Whatever Works|
To appreciate the movie, you will have to have a certain worldview – or at least be somewhat liberal, as Mr Allens usual jokes at the expense of the National Rifle Association, organised religion and the right wing mentality are present throughout. There are some wonderful performances – from David, in full Curb Your Enthusiasm mode, to the talented Wood, to the always brilliant Patricia Clarkson and Ed Begley Junior, who play Melody’s parents.
Most importantly of all, it is funny. Laugh out loud funny, throughout the entire feature, all due to well written and well performed dialogue. There aren’t many comedies that can truthfully state this. When the end credits appeared, I almost began clapping. Perhaps it was because I had been at a music festival just two days previously, so was used to applauding after a performance; but I dare say, this film, along with its closing monologue, was worthy of an ovation - a standing one, at that.