The very moment I was invited to see the new Woody Allen movie, I felt that unsettled feeling one invariably feels meeting an old lover for a drink. Really, it’s a feeling I’ve felt before seeing every Woody Allen movie since Small Time Crooks, when things started going south, a full decade ago. You know what I’m talking about.
Me: Hi! Wow!
Me: How are you? You look –
Her: Fine. I’m doing…I’m…[trails off]…yeah.
Me: Well, you know, that’s great.
Her: Not really, but…yeah. Anyway.
Me: Okay. [Drinks quickly] God, you know, we used to be something! Remember?
Her: Are we really going to talk about that?
Me: No. I mean, we don’t have to.
Me: But it’s true. Remember?
She stirs her drink.
Me: Come on, Hannah and Her Sisters, Broadway Danny Rose! You were incredible! We were incredible! I mean the two of us together. Right? Because even when you were like Everyone Says I Love You and everyone was disappointed, I was right behind you, saying, “No, no. It’s fine. Really, this is what’s happening, you’re wonderful, and I’ll be there even when you’re…” [Off her look] What’s wrong?
She shakes her head.
Me: What’s wrong?
Her: I don’t want to talk about –
Me: No, no, no…tell me. You can tell me.
Her: You’re bullying me. I’m someone else now.
Me: Bullying? What?
Her: Keep your voice down.
Me: I’m just trying to have a conver-
Her [blurting]: It’s just that every time I see you we talk about the same things! Diane Weist, Robert Greenhut…
Me: Those were great times, our times! Remember Mighty Aphrodite, even then–
Her: I remember! I remember!
Me: And that night at the Angelika? Manhattan Murder Mystery? Even when you weren’t all dressed up, you were adorable…
Her: You see, that’s your problem. You’re stuck in then. You always were. Even when we met all you wanted was Annie Hall and Manhattan. You you you you. Gordon Willis and Santo Loquasto and you you you! But what about me, the new me?
Me: I wanted the new you.
Her: I gave you Deconstructing Harry and you were blasé.
Me: I’ve changed.
Her: No you haven’t. Match Point and Vicky Cristina –
Me [incredulous laughter]: I can’t believe you’re doing this.
Her: Doing what?
Me: You’re not really bringing those up, are you?
Her: Why the hell shouldn’t I?
Me: Oh come on. Those things weren’t any good. They just weren’t as bad.
She slaps me.
Me: What am I supposed to say? “You really returned to form”? No way, honey. No way. You got lazy. You let me down. You let all of us down. And all of your “I have to see the Knicks” bullshit, what’s that about?
Her: I love the Knicks.
Me: Okay. Fine. Wrap at 5:00. I don’t care. Wrap at 4:00 if you want to. But tell me this: how can you call it a day and not get a single good take in there?
Her: I don’t have to take this from you.
Me: You say you love masters but really what you mean is “I don’t want to do another set up.”
Her: I’m leaving.
Me: There were shots in Cassandra’s Dream that were out of focus!
Her: I’m leaving now.
She gets up.
Me: Okay, take it easy, take it easy. Sit down, alright? Okay, I’m the guy that loves Radio Days, remember?
Her [calming down]: I don’t know what to tell you. I’m getting older. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I don’t even know if I like it anymore, but I do it. I keep doing it. So if you don’t like all of them, well, I’m sorry. I really am. I wish you would. But I’m not Bergman.
Me: There you go with that again. You always say that.
Her: Well it’s true.
Me: No it is not. You’re just as good as he is, just as smart, just as meaningful, just as –
He takes her hand.
Me [gently]: God damn it, would you listen to me?
Me: Just listen to me. I’m going to say one thing and then I swear I’ll stop, okay?
He takes a breath.
Me: Husbands and Wives.
She says nothing.
Me: That’s Bergman quality. Remember? Judy Davis and –
Her: I remember everything.
She smiles sadly.
Me: When we were good, we were good, huh?
Her: There was no one better.