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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Deconstructing Harry (1997)



Reviews and Comments

Deconstructing Harry is instantly recognizable as a traditional entry in Woody Allen's canon of films, and yet it forges into brand new territory all the same. Besides playing off the usual themes of broken relationships and sexual paranoia, Deconstructing Harry explores the creative process. One senses that, while virtually all of Allen's films are personal, this one is more personal than usual. As a nod to Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries, it's all about an aging man due to receive an honor and travelling to the function with what friends he can dig up to tag along. He's a writer of novels, and in episodic sequences, both real and fictional characters dredge up memories from his past.

Two things about the tone are striking. One, this is one of Allen's funniest latter day films. Two, it's one of his most coarse. There's more than just the usual subtext of cynicism here; a lot of outright bitterness filters through the humor, too. This is not a flattering portrait of the central character, or of Woody Allen himself. But it's smart and insightful and has a lot to say. This is one of Allen's best latter day films.