Wednesday 11 September 2013

A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy [1982]

Woody’s A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy was another of his displays of Bergman-philia, this time the source being the Swedish Master’s Smiles of a Summer Night. This was also his first collaboration with Mia Farrow, Woody’s second muse after Diane Keaton. This amusing, verbose and low-key, but tad uneven and largely unconvincing, comedy of manners would place, in my reckoning, as his least directorial venture among all his 80s works. Set at the turn of the 20th century, the story has Leopold (Jose Ferrer), an erudite but arrogant scholar and his bohemian and much younger bride-to-be Ariel (Farrow), being invited to the charming country house of Andrew (Allen), an eccentric Wall Street banker-cum-oddball inventor and his frigid wife Adrian (Mary Steenburgen). Also invited is Maxwell (Tony Roberts), a womanizing physician who arrives with his brazenly saucy nurse Dulcy (Julie Hagerty). Before long hidden strings start getting exposed and new complications start developing – Andrew knows Ariel from before and realizes he is still in love with her, Maxwell too falls head over heels with her, Leopold wants one last adventure with Dulcy, and Adrian wants to take certain uncomfortable advices from Dulcy. These parallel and interconnected developments, dealing with themes ranging from infidelity and carnal desires to unrequited love and marital guilt, were infused with his trademark wit, whimsy and charm, and interspersed with campy doses of magical realism. The acting was top-rate, with the various actor perfectly cast in their respective characters. Though the film had its share of funny moments, it also had its share of pretense and silliness, thus making this a watchable but a decidedly lesser work in Woody’s oeuvre.

Director: Woody Allen
Genre: Comedy/Comedy of Manners/Ensemble Film
Language: English
Country: US


Sam Juliano said...

True enough Shubhajit. Not a Woody to return to, though the subject is one to applaud.

Shubhajit said...

Indeed Sam. By the way, what's your opinion on the Bergman that formed the basis of this film? I haven't seen that yet.