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Annie Hall review

The film that beat Star Wars to the Oscar. The movie that represented Woody Allen's coming of age as a film-maker. The cultural phenomenon that spurred women all across America to raid charity shops for waistcoats and kipper ties. Many things mark Annie Hall's place in cinema history, but none of them are the reason you should see this movie. That would be the humour, poignancy and acute observation contained in each and every frame.

Told in flashback, it dissects the relationship of stand-up comedian Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) and ditzy singer Annie Hall (Diane Keaton), from meeting through honeymoon period to niggly break-up... then reconciliation and, finally, their slide into friendship. It's a warm, tender movie underpinned by the gentle tug of melancholia. The first of Allen's `bittersweet' pictures, it's only surpassed by Manhattan.

It's also the most exuberant of his movies, thrumming with ideas and experimental technical flourishes. Colour schemes, split-screens, animation, subtitles, straight-to-camera confessions: they're all here, along with the one-liners, neuroses, cultural referencing, psychiatric nit-picking and love of New York that havenow become the director's trademarks.

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