Cinema Review: Woody Allen – A Documentary


DIR/WRI/PRO: Robert B. Weide • DOP: Neve Cunningham, Anthony Savini, Nancy Schreiber, Bill Sheehy, Buddy Squires • ED: Karoliina Tuovinen, Robert B. Weide •  Cast: Woody Allen, Letty Aronson, Marshall Brickman, Josh Brolin


The tone of the film is set up from the beginning, the familiar font, the jazz playing over shots of New York; this film is not setting out to interrogate the man Woody Allen. It is a portrait of the artist and his career and yet doesn’t shy away from his life’s controversies but focuses on how the personal relates to the work.


If you’re watching hoping for shocking revelations about his personal life then this is not for you.
The film is a standard talking heads documentary without narration. Interviews with Allen are interwoven with clips from his films, archive footage and features a range of interview subjects from the industry such as Jack Rollins, Diane Keaton, Dianne Wiest and even his mother makes a brief appearance.


What makes this documentary stand out is that director Robert B. Weide has unprecedented access to Allen’s process. Allen is notorious for his hatred of publicity and never includes extras on DVDs and rarely gives interviews. We watch as Allen gets out his forty year old typewriter that he has used to type all his scripts and his drawer full of yellow loose A4 pages that hold all his ideas. He shows him around his old neighbourhood and even has access to him on set and in the editing room.


Allen is incredibly open and relaxed on film and there is clearly trust between them which makes for an insightful documentary. Some viewers may want more criticism of his work but Allen makes up for that with his consistent downplaying of his achievements. Love him or hate him, with forty years of filmmaking and no sign of him stopping yet, to quote his manager Jack Rollins ‘the man’s an industry.’


Soracha Pelan Ó Treasaigh

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
Woody Allen – A Documentary is released in the IFI on 8th June 2012


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