108. Whatever Works (2009)

Doesn’t quite work

Directed by: Woody Allen
Written by: Woody Allen
Starring: Evan Rachel Wood, Larry David and Henry Cavill

In the opening of Whatever Works we are introduced to Boris (David) – an overly pessimistic, talkative and disgruntled guy who “sees the bigger picture”, which happens to include us in the audience. In a rant delivered directly to us, Boris gives his painfully rambling thoughts on just about everything to do with life, telling us about his ex-wife, his attempt to commit suicide (which just left him with a limp), his beliefs, his ideologies… and it’s just the beginning.

The perfect couple

Woody Allen’s Whatever Works does work when Boris stop yacking and things start happening. After meeting a young and beautiful runaway Mississippi beauty pageant queen, Melodie (Wood), trying her luck in New York, Boris finds a blank canvas on which he can simply unload his anxiety and mind-numbingly depressing thoughts on. This brings on more yack-yack-yacking until Melodie’s mother comes into town looking for her, followed by her dad and a series of unexpected events that only support Boris’ theory that love, life and everything that holds us together is chaotic, random and yet, almost fatalistic.

At first, Whatever Works feels like Woody Allen is simply shoveling lines into Larry David’s mouth. David – not having the Woody Allen-esque screen presence – looks as though he is the blank canvas upon which Allen can draw his persona on. It’s no wonder then that when the plot progresses with actual events, things start to get more interesting – but not necessarily original, or as strong in comedy as we might expect from an Allen film. The laughs are there, but they are weak and unsurprising.


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