I hate dating. I hate the rules of dating, and I hate the entire process of having to go out and be with someone, and then either make a move or not make a move and then figure out what move it is you’re supposed to or not supposed to make…. People, when dating, are by far at their most self-conscious of themselves. I believe only the truest free-spirits can ever be comfortable doing it, and even then, it’s probably a defense mechanism to hide some other personal flaw a person may deems as not good for use during the practice of dating. The only other people, that dating is good for, are those who aren’t self-conscious, because they don’t know any better, like the young, which is probably what makes them so appealing.
Those are the constant extremes of Woody Allen, and no more than in "Manhattan", does he so clearly and perceptively struggle with them than in "Manhattan". It was appreciated by critics and the public when the film was released, but now the film reveals itself as a true masterpiece, not just about dating, but the reasons we do date, to find love. And then, the even worse part is that thought that, what if we had the love that we wanted and strived for, but let it go, maybe without even realizing it, and that’s assuming that are feelings we love, is actually love, and not a mind-created mirage to help cure us of loneliness. Shot with gorgeous blue-lit black and white photography by the great Gordon Willis, and using George Gershwin songs as the ironic soundtrack, Allan begins the movie by saying "Chapter 1" but he gets so bogged down in criticizing his own words, he never gets around to chapter 2, or for that matter, sentence 2. He plays a New York intellectual who writes on a dreadful TV sitcom named Isaac Davis. His 2nd ex-wife, Jill (Meryl Streep) has left him for another woman, and has begun writing a tell-all book about their marriage. He's currently dating Tracy (Mariel Hemingway, in an Oscar-nominated role) a 17-year-old high school student, who idealizes Isaac, but who Isaac keeps trying to break up with, mostly because he realizes the absurdity of the relationship, on both sides. (He's 25 years older than her.) Isaac's best friend Yale (Michael Murphy) is cheating on his wife Emily (Anne Byrne), with Mary, a magazine writer, who's on a similar intellectual plane with Isaac, which is why Yale continually tries to get the two of them together since he won't break-up with his wife. Mary's also a complete mess, who switches back and forth, between being the unknowing Philadelphian that's in over her head (Although being that my family's from Philly, I also don't know what-the-hell she means when she refers back to Philadelphia) and cursing like a sailor at herself, as she realizes every stupid relationship mistake she makes, but can't help herself from making them.