Manhattan Murder Mystery

Manhattan Murder Mystery (Woody Allen, 1993)
Larry Lipton (Woody Allen) and his wife Carol (Diane Keaton) meet their new next-door neighbors Paul (Jerry Adler) and Lilian (Lynn Cohen) House. They meet at the Houses' apartment for coffee, and they discover they have common interests. The next night, Larry and Carol find the Houses' door open and a crowd forming in the hallway. Lilian has died of a heart attack. The Liptons are surprised by the death because Lilian seemed so healthy.

A couple of days later, Carol notes Paul's cheerfulness and thinks his behavior is suspicious. Inventing a social excuse to visit him, she finds a funerary urn hidden in a cupboard, seeming to refute Paul's claim that Lilian was buried. Carol becomes more suspicious after hearing him leave his apartment at one in the morning. She thinks that he left to dispose of the urn, but Larry believes that Carol is overreacting.

Allen and Keaton were reunited in this comedy of murder and investigation for the first time since Manhattan in 1979. It was also just after Allen and Mia Farrow have been separated. Allen often said that this film was like one of the best thing that happened to him since his recent break-up. The whole thing with Farrow dragged him down and the making of Manhattan Murder Mystery, co-written with Marshall Brickman who also has co-writing credits on Annie Hall gave him more inspiration than in he ever had in the last few years. However, as great as Allen and Keaton are together on the screen, the greatness of Keaton on the screen is making Allen look like an amateur. He sometimes looks like he is watching her play and he can’t catch up with her.
Their dynamics is more or less a rendition of Alvy Singer and Annie Hall in their fifties. Allen tries to circle around his traditional play of mix and match couples but felt into it even if it slow down his mystery. Rounding the 110 minutes mark, Allen who is known  for 90 minutes features should have probably benefited being cut here and there to keep a tighter story and less explanations. Even if his Agatha Christie moments are delightful, they seem a little forced into the mouths of his characters.
Finally, this is another one that his fans will want to watch but it is far from being his most interesting film. In fact, it is a film that feels like an early Scoop. The promising cast and story doesn’t deliver and he are left wanting something more solid than this soft and predictable movie.

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