Text written By Alessia Pelonzi in collaboration with Badtaste.it
Translation: Bianca Baroni
Photo: Alessio Costantino
Take the best Woody Allen, the one that makes (made?) you want to stand up during the showing to burst into a loud applause. So, take it and mix it with a bit of old Hollywood atmospheres, add some cameos and you will get She’s funny that way, the last movie by Peter Bogdanovich, presented today at Venice Film Festival. Between funny misunderstandings and vitriolic dialogues, we are told about the unpredictable rise of Isabella (Imogen Poots), a prostitute who dreams to be an actress. It all starts with her rendez-vous with Arnold (Owen Wilson), a stage director who cheats on his wife Delta (Kathryn Hahn), big love of Seth (Rhys Ifans) ,the histrionic protagonist of Arnold’s latest play, written by Josh (Will Forte), partner of the hysteric psychologist Jane (Jennifer Aniston), who cures not only about Isabel but also an old client of her, a judge (Austin Pendleton), obsessed by the beautiful prostitute – or “muse”, as she likes to define herself.
Everything, as we said, smells of the best Woody Allen: starting from the blond protagonist to the soundtrack, the photography and, obviously, New York. The whole cast it’s a joy for the eyes and mind. The first, deserved applause goes to Imogen Poots, the 25 years old English version –and far better- of Scarlett Johansson. Owen Wilson doesn’t surprise, he’s perfectly comfortable in his role –created ad hoc-: he’s a goofy cheater with a heart of gold. Rhys Ifans emerges among all: never been so funny and histrionic. The movie has a secure rhythm and is full of delicious jokes, based on a brilliant though pretty predictable script. But Bogdanovich is concerned with entertainment rather than astonishment, in the best tradition of that Hollywood golden age of the comedy, that he has honored with class and vivacity. The tribute is not hidden, starting from that long strict quote of the classic Ernst Lubitsch Cluny Brown, rattled off by the romantic Arnold to Isabella, during their first meeting.
If the old Hollywood charm isn’t enough, we can add –no spoiler!- that the movie is also fulfilled with references to the contemporary cinema, through sideswipes to blockbusters thanks to the cammeos, all justified and perfectly stuck into the plot. It doesn’t take much to create a great movie? Sure. You just have to learn from the best cinema of the past and adapt it to a first-rate cast. The Italian cinema should pay more attention to products like She’s funny that way, because it shows without doubts that an elegant humour wins over bad words and that a well-matched cast gets the better of the seasonal trends of actors, ready to fade at the first gust of wind.