2 May 2005 | bob the moo
Some of it is witty Allen stuff but the blindness joke is stretched and the narrative poor
Following a string of flops and a "difficult" reputation, director Val Waxman is now paying the bills doing adverts or anything else he can get. When his ex-wife gets her project greenlit by producer boyfriend Hal Jaeger, she fights for Val to get the job. Despite the personal issues and conflicts Val knows it is his last chance to get his career back and takes the job. The personal problems are only the start of things going wrong whenever Val is suddenly struck down with psychosomatic blindness. Knowing that this would get him fired and ruined, Val and his agent try to conceal the fact and continue the film.
With poor reviews and no good signs about it, it was no surprise that this film never came to any cinemas near me (was it even released in the UK?) and to be honest I wasn't that bothered that I missed it. A visit to Austria recently found it playing in cinema in Vienna and, although I didn't see it then, it put it in my mind to watch it at home and see if it was worth the ongoing cinema screenings that the Austrians were giving it. The start of the film suggests a fairly good film as it is full of the usual Allen wit even if it felt a bit like him on autopilot. However with the "blindness" section things seem to falter and fail a bit at first it is funny but quickly it gets tired and there is nothing injected into the film to shore it up. The reason for the blindness is suggested as interesting but it is barely done and not taken anywhere other than the most basic development in order to provide a conclusion. The idea is good and the real life parallels are interesting (Allen, handicapped by the American system but still appreciated in Europe even if he doesn't totally understand why) but these are not taken beyond the original concept and never brought out in the script. Instead we have plenty of OK jokes and quips but nothing that approaches an engaging narrative or a developed plot. It is still OK but it is unlikely that any audiences other than real Allen fans will get much fro it; as one I laughed and enjoyed it a bit but am not blind to the massive weaknesses.
Allen does his usual stuff to good effect and if you like him you'll like him here. Leoni acts in his shadow and can't make the role her own she stays very much an Allen creation. Williams is enjoyable; Hamilton is fun and the support cast all do well enough with their various parts. None of them really shine but the script still shares the laughs around and nobody actually gave a bad performance as such just a shame that none of them have a character to speak of either.
Overall this is an OK film but nothing more than that. Even fans of Woody Allen will be at a stretch to forgive a script that has no development, characters or reason. The laughs come in fits and starts and the film rarely satisfies; fun but nothing to write home about and I'm glad I didn't spent my limited time in Austria watching this.