Woody Allen and Mariel Hemingway make for one of the most unusual and heartwarming couples in the history of film. It is a relationship perfectly characterized by the choice of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue to both open and close the movie. Gershwin's blend of old world classical with new world jazz is the perfect musical accompaniment to the relationship between an unfulfilled forty-two year old man and an almost perfect seventeen year old. Filmed beautifully in black and white Woody Allen plays Issac a comedy writer working in television who has only one bright thing in his life his seventeen year old girlfriend Tracy. As improbable as the pairing and the premise may sound Manhattan is one of Woody Allen's truly great movies.
Woody Allen's movies frequently deal with those things which are at the very heart of the human condition: love, lust, betrayal, pride and envy. Manhattan has all of this in spades along with some of the most witty dialogue Allen ever penned. The verbal fencing between Issac and Mary (Diane Keaton) are great and those between Issac and his lesbian ex-wife Jill (Meryl Streep) are priceless. One of the highlights of the movie for fans of modern political theatre as well as Star Trek DS 9 and Toy Story is the presence of Wallace Shawn as Mary's uberlover ex-husband Jeremiah.
From the point of view of romantic comedy Manhattan is a must see. The dialogue is smart, the acting superb and naturally the direction is wonderful. Mariel Hemingway received a best supporting actress nod from the academy for her role in Manhattan but lost out to fellow co-star Meryl Streep who won for her role in Kramer vs Kramer. Allen was nominated along with his writing partner Marshall Brickman for an original screenplay Oscar but lost out to Steve Tesich's Breaking Away. It was a tough year to be in Oscar contention but Manhattan should have received a best picture nod even though it is rare for comedies to get that kind of attention from Oscar. This is one of those movies that really needs to be seen on a big screen television on blu-ray. Add it to your permanent collection you will not be disappointed.
As is the case for the Blu-ray Annie Hall release there are no special features for Manhattan Blu-ray.