Love and Death, Woody Allen’s brilliant satire on classic Russian literature as well as Russian mores, traditions and history (especially with respect to their perceptions by the Western world), was arguably his best film from his pre-Annie Hall days. Filled to the brim with pinching observations, off-balancing wit, and incredibly hilarious one-liners, the film saw an early culmination of his quintessential traits that would come to define him. The movie concerns with the exploits of Boris (Allen), a diminutive and a rather timid poet who is in love with his married cousin Sonja (Diane Keaton), during the turbulent 19th century Russia. Nothing is ever sacrosanct for Woody, and thus he used this canvas to take jabs at such topics as, god, religion, family, relationships, bravery, the meaning of existence, and the inevitability of death. He underlined the texts with a broad layer of socio-political commentaries, philosophical discourses, and personal statements, by making terrific use of his trademark irreverence, deadpan style and sardonic, self-deprecating humour. Woody was excellent in his inimitable portrayal of a non-conformist common man for whom life is a series of unfortunate occurrences, while Keaton too was good as the cerebral belle who makes lofty speeches on love and then falls for the crudest man possible. Woody made use of a wide range of comedic elements, ranging from wordplays and satire to slapstick and absurdist spoof, while also employing tongue-in-cheek techniques like breaking the fourth wall. Though admittedly not as personal a work as some of his more renowned masterpieces, this still managed to be that rare comedy that is as intelligent as it is funny.
Director: Woody Allen
Genre: Comedy/Social Satire/Parody/Slapstick