Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Woody Allen Does Polyamory Again in Whatever Works

After Woody Allen's 2008 film Vicky Cristina Barcelona created a sensation in the poly community due to the poly elements in its story line, I am surprised that I didn't hear anything about his 2009 movie, Whatever Works.  I just happened upon it on Netflix.  Though polyamory isn't the main story line, there is definitely a lovely example of functional polyamory present.  Of course, it's portrayed in the context of bohemian life in Greenwich Village and not as taking place in some mainstream middle class suburban setting, but still, we'll take a healthy portral of polyamory whereever we can get it. 

Apparently Allen is enthralled with polyamory, or so it would seem if two movies in a row with poly elements form a pattern.  But unlike VCB, this one never had a wide release in theaters.  It was first shown as the premiere film at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2009 and stars Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Evan Rachel Wood (Sophie-Ann Leclerq, the vampire queen of Louisiana, on True Blood), as well as Michael McKean, Ed Begley, Jr., and the awesome Patricia Clarkson (also in VCB), who plays a blissed-out newby poly person.

In addition to it's polyamory aspect, this film also appeals to me because it juxtaposes in romantic relationships God-fearing NRA-member traditional southerners with denizens of Greenwich Village and demonstrates how bohemian culture can open eyes and minds. 

So this is definitely a film worth seeing so long as you don't mind Larry David's character Boris's ascerbic, angst-ridden, narcissistic, hypochondriacal, anti-social, suicidal carrying on.  Of course, it wouldn't be a Woody Allen film without some of that.  And it's definitely interesting to see what happens when Allen introduces Boris's new love interest , Melody, played by Wood, who is a sweet, smart, inquisitive, enthusiastic and independent young southern woman.  Only Allen could make that scenario seem plausible, which he does and masterfully, master that he is.
Some favorite quotes:

Boris: Can you believe this cracker, this red state Neanderthal, this mindless zombie of the National Rifle Association?

John (Ed Begley, Jr.): My shrink says that the guns were all a manifestation of my sexual inadequacy.

Boris:  Yeah, if it wasn't for sexual inadequacy the National Rifle Association would go broke!


Boris: ... I can't say enough times, whatever love you can get and give, whatever happiness you can filch or provide, every temporary measure of grace, whatever works. 

(That last one's not such a bad point of view when it comes to arranging one's love life as one will instead of doing what others expect of us.)


poly advice nurse said...

Oh look! It's available streaming! I have *so* sent that to my netflix queue and will be watching that later tonight. Yay!

Poly Advice Nurse said...

I just wanted to let you know that I did, in fact, watch this because you told us about it!

The main character reminds me very much of my most recent ex, so the whole movie was very poignant to me--but I thought that, on the whole, the entire movie was really pleasant.