Celebrity (1998) USA
Celebrity Image Cover
Additional Images
Director:Woody Allen
Producer:Letty Aronson, Charles H. Joffe, Jacqui Safra, Richard Brick, Jean Doumanian, Jack Rollins
Writer:Woody Allen
Date Added:2006-03-27
Awards:4 nominations
Picture Format:Widescreen
Aspect Ratio:1.85:1
Sound:Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Languages:English, Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Features:Black & White
Woody Allen  ...  (Director)
Woody Allen  ...  (Writer)
Greg Mottola  ...  Director
Jeff Mazzola  ...  Assistant Director
Dick Mingalone  ...  Camera Operator
Vladimir Bibic  ...  Director of Photography
Melanie Griffith  ...  Nicole Oliver
Francisco Quidjada  ...  Erno Delucca
Aleksa Palladino  ...  Production Assistant
Dan Moran  ...  Jackhammer Operator
Peter Castellotti  ...  Sound Recordist (as Pete Castellotti)
A. Lee Morris  ...  Second Assistant Cameraperson
Douglas McGrath  ...  Bill Gaines
Kenneth Branagh  ...  Lee Simon
Maurice Sonnenberg  ...  Dalton Freed
Winona Ryder  ...  Nola
Craig Ulmschneider  ...  Daniel - Production Assistant
Judy Davis  ...  
Leonardo DiCaprio  ...  
Joe Mantegna  ...  
Comments: A funny look at people who will do anything to get famous... or stay famous.

Summary: Woody Allen's portrait of the celebrity life--as seen through the eyes of a newly divorced couple--is a black-and-white, New York-style La Dolce Vita that's a chillier flip side to Allen's earlier New York valentine, Manhattan. Despite a few missteps, though, it's an admirable (if dark) and worthy addition to the Allen pantheon. Kenneth Branagh and Judy Davis (both boasting American accents) star as the once-marrieds, each struggling to build new, separate lives in a media-saturated, celebrity-driven world. He tries his hands at celebrity profiles (while peddling a screenplay to any star that will listen) and falls into the lap of a bosomy starlet (Melanie Griffith), the first in a long line of briefly attainable women. She runs into a producer (Joe Mantegna) who offers her a job as a TV personality as well as a loving relationship. This seemingly simple double plot is punctuated with twists and turns in the form of flashbacks and innumerable side trips, all ravishingly photographed in black and white by the legendary Sven Nykvist, and populated by one of Allen's largest casts ever; if you blink you'll miss countless cameos by Isaac Mizrahi, Donald Trump, Hank Azaria, and a host of others.
While Davis is splendid as usual (aside from the requisite nervous breakdown scene she's done one too many times), somebody should have told Branagh to put a kibosh on his Woody Allen imitation, which is so impeccable as to become irritating. His failure in the role, however, isn't entirely his fault, as it's also another in a long line of unlikable male protagonists that Allen has created, as if daring audiences to hate his main characters after loving them in such movies as Manhattan and Annie Hall. He's never more unlikable than in a painful sequence in which he tags along with a spoiled, temperamental teen idol (a shrewd and clever Leonardo DiCaprio) and proves himself the quintessential noodge. Far more enjoyable misadventures with Branagh include Charlize Theron in the film's best performance as a libidinous supermodel with a penchant for echinacea; a stunning Famke Janssen as a successful book editor Branagh almost moves in with; and Winona Ryder, acting like an adult for the first time, as an aspiring actress who catches Branagh's eye more than once. All manage to slip through Branagh's fingers by the end of the film.
Despite the film's lack of focus, Allen aficionados will want this film for at least two wonderful moments, one in which Davis seeks solace from a streetwise fortune teller after she's fleeing her own wedding, and a beautiful nighttime scene in which Branagh romances a captivated Ryder at a subway kiosk. Both episodes prove that Allen, despite the fitful period he's moved into, still has that movie magic. --Mark Englehart