Aside from a couple of liabilities, which I'll mention a little further down this review, this is top-notch Woody Allen, a work that gives as many delights as his earlier work, but is also marvelous in that it's an experiment for him. How can a filmmaker combine his usual- by 96 usual anyway- with relationships that go up and down, end and start, and neuroses floating around like it's nothing, AND with the escapism of the musicals of the 30s and 40s that Allen obviously adores deeply? Somehow it all works pretty much to classic Allen effect, where there's a level of sharp wit, but there's also that added element of life being wonderful enough even when things seem at their lowest. The story goes into several directions, with a narrator (Natasha Lyonne) filling in the gaps of a family and their turbulent relationships. She D.J. Berlin, biological daughter of Joe (Allen), and technical step-daughter of Bob (Alda) who's married to Steffi (Goldie Hawn), her real mother. He lives in Paris, and on vacation Joe suddenly becomes involved with Von Sidell (Julia Roberts) after getting advice from DJ (she listens to all of her confessions to a psychiatrist through a wall) so he has all of the moves to make it the perfect relationship. Meanwhile, her sister Skylar (Barrymore) is engaged to Holden (Edward Norton), but things become complicated via parolee Charles Fery (Tim Roth). And meanwhile, DJ goes from man to man, almost getting engaged, and then falling for a guy in a Taxi Cab...
And so on. All the while Allen injects the perfect whimsical tone and sweetness of all of those great, 'un-real' musicals of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Occasionally an actor might sing and not sound too right (aside from Barrymore, whom one can definitely tell a difference, they all sing their songs)- Roberts being one of them- but it's really amazing to see such talented actors have naturally apt ways into singing. And why not, after all, as many of us would love to just go right into a song we like on a dime. Some highlights for me were the Norton songs, "Just You, Just Me" and "My Baby Cares Just For Me", the Tim Roth number "If I Had You", and very surprisingly by a group of the 'un-dead' via D.J.'s grandfather played by Patrick Cranshaw (likely the only time Allen's had this much visual effects going on). And, of course, even Allen breaks into a soft tune of wanting affection too. But it would be just one thing if the songs were very joyful and made the audience happy- there's always, even in the bits that still ring with the realistic dialog of Allen's relationship tragic-comedies- it's also got very funny moments. The moment Roth pops up is one, or when Joe tries to use his 'knowledge' on Roberts's character, and the Marx brothers number is almost *too* good.
Aside from the oddly voiced narration from Natasha Lyonne (not a bad performance at all, but for some reason the narration sounds just off for me), and a couple of exceptions, Everyone Says I Love You provides for a truly serene time in Woody Allen's ouevere, a collection of old-time numbers (and maybe some new ones) that combine the beauty in the cities we see (New York, Paris, Venice) with a subject that has wonderfully dogged the director for the bulk of his career- what does it mean to fall in love, or to lose love, or to find it again even in the smallest measures- and not without some mixing of politics and neuroses.
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