Shadows and Fog

Year: 1991
Production Co: Orion Pictures Corporation
Director: Woody Allen
Producer: Robert Greenhut
Writer: Woody Allen
Cast: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, John Malkovich, James Rebhorn, David Ogden Stiers, Madonna, Lily Tomlin, Jodie Foster, John Cusack, Donald Pleasance, Kathy Bates, John C Reilly, Kurtwood Smith

In reviewing Hollywood Ending recently (another Allen film) I commented on how the lead character contracting psychosomatic blindness seemed so unlike Woody Allen – he doesn't usually rely on such obtuse plot devices.

This film is much more in line with what he does best. There's very little on the screen but characters and dialogue – literally, as the whole thing is not only shot in black and white but set in a dark city on a foggy night.

The bare thread of a plot exists, but it's merely a way to get characters interacting. The militant neighbours of mild mannered bookkeeper Kleinman (Allen) wake him up in the middle of the night and demand he join their hunt for a serial killer that's been striking throughout the night. When he goes out to join them, they've disappeared, leaving him to wander, scared and alone.

At the same time, circus performer Irmy (Farrow) has a romantic bust up with her boyfriend the clown (Malkovich) and storms off into town where she meets Kleinman and he insists they stay together for safety's sake.

It's all about Allen's endless nervous patter as they run into various factions of the wandering band, everyone around him foil for his shtick. Asides like the whorehouse and the clown's trying to get his girlfriend are philosophical and amusing, but it's Allen's show all the way.

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