“A RAINY DAY IN NEW YORK”
Rated PG-13. At Landmark Kendall Square.
Another love letter to New York City, Woody Allen’s delayed release “A Rainy Day in New York” features Timothee Chalamet, who has renounced Allen and the film and will be seen in 2021 in “Dune,” as Gatsby Wells, the latest screen iteration of Allen, re-imagined as the gambling, piano-playing misfit scion of rich Republican Manhattanites. After flunking out of an unnamed New York City college, Gatsby has ended up in a leafy, upstate boutique institute known as Yardley College, and he dates beautiful classmate Ashleigh Enright (Elle Fanning), the debutante daughter of an Arizona banking tycoon and a reporter for the Yardley Arbus. When Ashleigh is assigned to interview famous director Rolland Pollard (Liev Schreiber) — another Allen doppelganger — in New York City, Gatsby, who loves New York in the rain, plans a whirlwind weekend at the Pierre and evenings at the Carlyle piano bar and day trips to the Museum of Modern Art to see an exhibition of Weegee photographs.
Timothee Chalamet and Elle Fanning in ‘A Rainy Day in New York.’
At all costs Gatsby, who has just won $20,000 at a poker game, intends to avoid his socialite mother (Cherry Jones) and the gala she will host at the Waldorf. But all plans are swept aside when Roland becomes infatuated with Ashleigh and steals her away on the first day. Left to his own devices, Gatsby runs into a vulgar former classmate (Griffin Newman), who fills him in on the scandalous lives of their other ex-classmates, and an acquaintance shooting an NYU student film for which Gatsby is recruited. In his only scene, Gatsby is directed to kiss fellow actor Chan (Selena Gomez), the younger sister of someone he dated in high school. You can just feel the chemistry bubbling. Well, OK, you can’t. One of the problems with “A Rainy Day in New York” is that Chalamet and Gomez aren’t much of a match. “A Rainy Day in New York” has all the ingredients of a classic Allen New York City-set love story, the most iconic of which are “Annie Hall, “Manhattan” and “Broadway Danny Rose.”
But the casting has more hiccups than Ashleigh, who gets them when she feels “sexually conflicted” and has a major attack when she meets movie star Francisco Vega (Diego Luna channeling Fernando Lamas). Before that, Ashleigh and a screenwriter named Ted Davidoff (Jude Law) spy his wife, Connie (Rebecca Hall), entering the building where his best friend lives after she told him she was shopping with friends. The entire supernumerary sequence begs to be cut.
The dialogue is witty and funny. The Erroll Garner recordings on the soundtrack, including his frequently covered classic “Misty,” and other standards performed by Conal Fowkes are sweetly romantic. The cinematography of Vittorio Storaro and production design of Santo Loquasto, both Allen regulars, are enticing. But something is missing. Part of it is Chalamet, who never quite fully inhabits Gatsby. Fanning recalls Allen’s leading ladies past, Diane Keaton most of all. You can gaze at Ludwig Bemelman’s murals in the Art Deco bar in the Carlyle Hotel or take a quick tour of the Metropolitan Museum, where the giant Egyptian sculptures seem designed to complement Gomez. You will get to hear Tony Award-winner Annaleigh Ashford’s delightful, deal-breaking, horrible laugh, twice. In his best scene, Chalamet, who is boyishly thin and all cheekbones, jawbones and artfully stray locks, pretends to play the piano while really singing Tom Adair and Matt Dennis’s “Everything Happens to Me.” His voice, like the film, is small and lovely.
(“A Rainy Day in New York” contains suggestive language, partial nudity, smoking, drug use and profanity.)