Shot in ravishing black and white CinemaScope by the great Gordon Willis and backed by an all-Gershwin score, Woody Allen’s romantic comedy from 1979 surely earns its title: it is one of the cinema’s great odes to New York.
It’s also Allen’s best and definitive film. Fretful as ever, his character is a TV comedy writer aspiring to something more serious. His wife (a formidable Meryl Streep) has dumped him for another woman and will dissect their marriage in her forthcoming book.
He’s dating a much younger woman (Mariel Hemingway), but when Diane Keaton trashes his taste in art he’s smitten. Should it make a difference that her current boyfriend (Michael Murphy) and his wife are our hero’s best friends?
Amongst this indelible cast, 18-year-old Hemingway dominated the headlines for her lustrous embodiment of Allen’s romantic idealisation of uncomplicated youth – a notion that causes more embarrassment in his character than it seemed to in audiences at the time.
The one-liners come as fast as the signifiers of 70's cosmopolitan sophistication, but there’s an undertow of sadness, a recognition of loss that undercuts even self-satire. The new 4K digital print is scanned from the original camera negative.
Manhattan is a great film about love in and love for New York
— Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian