A Rainy Day in New York (2 stars)

A Rainy Day in New York

Woody Allen's latest is as mediocre, sexist and dated as much of his modern output

It's hard to write about Woody Allen's latest without discussing its troubled journey to the screen. After Allen's adopted daughter Dylan wrote about the alleged sex abuse she suffered as a child, several cast members donated their salaries to Time's Up. Distributor Amazon Studios dropped the movie, and it was only released in non-English-speaking territories. Now, with a different distributor, it's coming straight to digital in the UK.

A glossy, old-fashioned romantic comedy, it stars Timothée Chalamet as Gatsby, a rich student who decides to join his girlfriend Ashleigh (Elle Fanning) in Manhattan, where she's interviewing a famous director (Liev Schreiber). While Ashleigh gets caught up in improbable encounters with powerful film industry men, Gatsby bumps into his ex-girlfriend's little sister (Selena Gomez), now an actress.

As with most modern Woody Allens, it's a case of terrific cast, mediocre film. Mildly diverting rather than actually funny, it's wildly out of step with the supposedly contemporary era ('I shouldn't imbibe so copiously,' says Ashleigh at one point). It's a portrait of bored, privileged, selfish people who aren't likeable enough to care about, despite the actors' best efforts.

Fanning's simpering Ashleigh is a brainy beauty queen whose intelligence wavers to suit the demands of the plot and the men around her. Once again, Allen gives us a naive young woman being romanced by older men, and that got old a long time before #MeToo came along. All women are a commodity in this film: Ashleigh's currency is her youthful looks, while men's currency is their power and / or money, Gatsby even hires a call girl to impersonate Ashleigh at a party.

And while there's plenty of talk about romance, there's no real passion in this mannered little time-passer. There's a sense that it belongs on the small screen, whatever your feelings about the director.

Available to watch on demand from Fri 5 Jun.

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