Unpleasant people behave selfishly until it stops, rather than ends, in this latest trifle from Woody Allen, who once again manages to persuade A-list talent to help him make a C-list movie.
It’s another romantic roundelay, with a divorced couple and their unhappily married daughter making a dreary series of bad romantic choices. Anthony Hopkins plays Alfie, a wealthy man who leaves his wife of 40 years because she makes him feel old, and marries a prostitute he’s known for two months (Lucy Punch). The ex-wife, Helena (Gemma Jones), comforts herself by consulting with a cheerful psychic (Pauline Collins) and dropping in uninvited on her unhappy daughter, Sally (Naomi Watts), and her unhappier husband, Roy (Josh Brolin). Roy has struggled to fulfill the promise of his first novel. After a series of failures, he is desperately hoping his latest manuscript will be accepted by the publisher. And he is also hoping to find a way to meet the beautiful neighbor (Freda Pinto of “Slumdog Millionaire”) he spies on through her window. Sally is smitten with her boss (Antonio Banderas).
The movie has little energy and less sense of purpose. The story is inert and so are the characters. Every one of them is monumentally self-absorbed and not one of them is meaningfully different at the end of the movie than he or she is at the beginning. Or if they are, we don’t know as we have long since lost interest in anything other than seeing some of the finest actors in the English-speaking world struggle to make something out of these underwritten roles.