Director: Woody Allen
Cast: Natalie Portman, Woody Allen, Edward Norton, Goldie Hawn
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Once more with feeling! Do you remember that episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? The one with Anthony Stewart Head singing? This 1996 musical by Woody Allen is a lot like that. But with fewer vampires.
Allen’s delightful foray into the world of jazz standards is clearly a personal project. The fact that he has never done something like this again is telling. Amassing a fascinating cast – including Natalie Portman, Alan Alda (of course) and Tim Roth – the director gets the then-young stars to run around New York, Paris and Venice pretending to be upper-class fools in love. There’s young Edward Norton and Drew Barrymore, jaded writer Woody Allen who just got dumped, and a massive supporting cast stemming from his first marriage with Goldie Hawn.
But forget about the politics, the wealth, the complexities of the relationships. Even the neurotic existential one-liners you come to expect from a Woody flick. Everyone Says I Love You is about one thing: that feeling you get when you burst into song. From cadavers coming to life in a funeral home (while jiving to “Enjoy Yourself It’s Later Than You Think”) to Norton’s suitor serenading Barrymore in the street (“Just You, Just Me”), people pipe up into show tunes all over the shop.
It’s properly charming stuff. Not because the cast can sing – they can’t (Drew Barrymore is apparently so terrible that she was dubbed) – but precisely because they sound like normal people. It’s a potentially-suicidal decision for a filmmaker to make (Peter Bogdanovich tried the same to much less success with At Long Last Love) but by heck, it pays off.
The jokes sometimes fall flat and the interweaving love story is hardly original, but there’s one sequence that is absolutely jaw-dropping: reuniting on the banks of the Seine, Woody Allen and Goldie Hawn share a sweet duet in the wee small hours of the morning. It’s a nostalgic, wistful moment shot by Allen with the kind of fizz, colour and emotion that defines his best work – a harmony of genuine heart and old-school movie magic.
By the end of the number, when Goldie starts walking on air, you’ll swear it’s the kind of thing that happens every day. It may be full of dodgy singing, but Everyone Says I Love You doesn’t hit a wrong note.