Mar 22, 2011

Whatever Works (2009): Movie Review *spoilers*


Typical of most of my anachronistic reviews, this has been long overdue.

Like most woody allen fare, the tales of jaded quantum physicist Boris Yellnikoff (Larry David) transpire in New York city, whereto the hypochondriacal misanthrope moves after a failed suicide attempt, relinquishing his professorship at Columbia university and divorcing his wife of many years. This transition is precipitated by his biological decay, his disillusionment with the human condition and the institution of marriage, alongwith the reinforcement of his convictions on the futility of life.

Around his new abode in the lower east side, Boris meets optimists, which includes philosophical scholars and butchers among contrarians of other stripes , who engage with him over crumpets and apple pie on subjects ranging from the Original intentions of Karl Marx to medical malpractice.He also takes to coaching toddlers in the fine game of chess and takes great delight in calling them “cretins” to rake his wherewithal. These activities tide him over from one afternoon to another and appear to make the ordeal he calls life bearable.As he returns one evening from his ritualistic ranting and raving at the bakery, he is affrighted by the fascinatingly dense Melody(Evan Rachel wood), who emerges from under a pile of cardboard boxes and begs for sustenance . Briefly reluctant, Boris begrudgingly relents after kibitzing her lifestyle and offers her shelter for the night and the night alone. 

Must’nt come as any surprise that she winds up staying longer and has her na├»ve southerner worldview radically altered. Concurrently her cheated-on Christian mother shows up at boris’s doorstep looking for melody and witnesses a transformation herself and turns into a pornographer , while her father, a member of the national rifle association, arrives later, and gleans while at a bar drowning his sorrows with sinners that he had been in the closet all these decades. Both characters find extraordinary bliss by the movie’s climax. Hence the Title.

Woody, patently, had larry in mind while writing boris, perhaps even the movie. Furthermore, Larry david isn’t seeking diversity in his acting career and is content with playing iconoclasts-his schtick. However , I will cede credit where its due, Unlike his character in Curb your enthusiasm, Boris had a distinctive gait and gesticulations, was infinitely more articulate and infuriatingly more self-assured. The dialogue was trenchant and illuminating . I instantly realized the movie deserved my fullest attention lest I gloss over its nuances. It wouldn’t be hyperbole to say that viewing this lead to personal development. Evan Rachel wood’s performance was in lockstep with larry’s and those of other stalwarts featured in the movie. She is a cool cat and never fails to intrigue me with her personal and professional choices. Marilyn Manson?? Seriously!


There are some great sequences which will go down in movie lore. Casein point: Scene where Melody breaks up with Boris .The grace and condescension with which he rationalizes Melody’s decision and his indifference is downright hillarious.

The cinematography gave me a flavor of life in New York City, a city I have always fascinated about but have never visited. The climax was affecting and It would be criminal to not quote boris to conclude my review...
                    “That's why 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 “

:)

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