Sweet nothings: ‘A RAINY DAY IN NEW YORK’ – standard Woody Allen fare

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Preston Barta // Features Editor

A RAINY DAY IN NEW YORK

Rated PG-13, 92 minutes.
Director: Woody Allen
Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Elle Fanning, Liev Schreiber, Selena Gomez, Jude Law, Diego Luna, Rebecca Hall, Suki Waterhouse and Cherry Jones

Following the collapse of Woody Allen’s 2018 distribution deal with Amazon amid comments he made about the #MeToo movement, A Rainy Day in New York is finally seeing the light of day…only to fall back into the shade. 

Despite having a knockout all-star cast – including Timothée Chalamet, Elle Fanning, Selena Gomez, Jude Law, Diego Luna, and Liev Schreiber – Allen’s next film is only playing in a few theaters (and not anywhere near Dallas-Fort Worth). If you’ve kept up with his personal life, you could probably guess why that is and why this may very well be the last star-studded movie he puts out.

To focus only on the work itself: A Rainy Day in New York is nothing to write home about. It’s the same kind of comedy of errors that we’ve seen one too many times from Allen. This includes gorgeous shots of its titular city, tweed blazers, upscale lives, older men flirting with younger women, and so on. That said, it admittedly has some good lines and moments sprinkled across its 90-minute runtime. It’s simply a cozy movie, no more or less. And Chalamet is just the charmer in everything. 

The romantic comedy follows two undergrad lovebirds, played by Chalamet and Fanning. Chalamet’s character, Gatsby Welles, believes the couple is off to enjoy a romantic weekend together. Although Fanning’s character, Ashleigh, has some work to do during the getaway (interview an acclaimed filmmaker for an assignment), these promised strolls through Manhattan are only a quick Greyhound bus away. When Ashleigh meets the director (Schreiber) and his go-to screenwriter (Law), the original chat blossoms into an all-day affair. 

Gatsby grows increasingly worried throughout the day as he walks around the Big Apple alone, gambling and hoping to not run into anyone he knows, primarily family. That wish is short-lived when he bumps into some old friends filming a movie (one of whom looks exactly like a young Woody Allen) and is asked to help out. It’s there that Gatsby generates some sparks with Gomez’s character, Shannon, the younger sister of his ex. And the plot only thickens from there as whereabouts become known and true desires surface.

Allen is a sucker for telling these kinds of stories. And even though A Rainy Day in New York features all his signature touchstones, the actors involved, and the explored themes of love and confusion have some weight to them. One conversation between Chalamet and Cherry Jones, who plays Gatsby’s mother, is especially profound. 

So, if you’re looking for another somewhat pleasant love letter to Manhattan from Allen, A Rainy Day in New York has a few smiles to bestow upon you.

Grade: B-

Now playing in select Landmark Theatres across the nation. Releasing November 10 on on-demand platforms.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.