Annie Hall is undoubtedly one of our all time great style inspirations. Working quirky, menswear influenced attire (complete with oversized tie) Diane Keaton's character is perhaps one of the most-iconic heroines in fashion-film history.
Paving the way with her effortlessly androgynous high-waisted trousers, braces and corduroy waistcoats, Annie Hall is a poster-girl for not only fashion but women finding their way everywhere. For that reason, we were just a little bit excited to be invited to The Barbican's screening of the film, as part of The Film that Changed my Life series. Selected by Chairman of the London Film Critics' Circle and lifelong fan of Annie Hall, Jason Solomons chatted to us about how this unconventional romantic-comedy inspired him to go to jazz clubs, to date, to watch movies and to embrace his Jewishness...
We know how much you love Annie Hall, but what is it about her signature style that you find so appealing?
I just love it. It’s a very 1970s New York style that walks the line between masculine and feminine. Annie Hall's sense of fashion reflects her strong character. She’s such a passionate woman and extremely confident in her own style and feelings. Despite Alvy’s constant psychoanalysis, she actually emerges the stronger character of the two. She set the mould for female characters in rom-coms and retains a ballsy femininity despite being dressed in masculine clothing. It’s the confidence that I'm attracted to; she often wears a vest top without a bra and looks incredibly cool. She works a wide brimmed hat and big glasses, seemingly borrowing her style from a spectrum of different eras. If you look at the credits Ralph Lauren was supposed to have designed the costumes, but the story goes that Diane Keaton turned up on set with her own outfits and Woody totally loved it despite the producers trying to intervene. Woody said that she [Diane Keaton] is a genius and should wear what she wants; the clothes in the film are no mistake, they are intrinsically part of the character and are often referred to throughout the film. The fashion extends to the males characters too, you wouldn't necessarily think of woody Allen as a fashion icon, yet he is very aware of the look that he has created. That jacket, those corduroy pants; it shouldn't really work but it does.
The distinct aesthetic of Annie Hall also extends to the general mise-en-scène of the film, tell us more about this.
A favourite scene for me is Annie in her VW as it’s such a great choice of car for her. Everyone had big cars in the seventies and she had this tiny little car years before anyone else; that’s how cool she was. Annie’s bag is important too, it’s so big and there’s a sandwich lodged at the bottom of it which reflects her character. Woody Allen channelled a lot of influence from the Europeans. There’s a definite borrowing from that slender European image that has filtered into the film, there’s lots of slender girls enjoying summer in New York wearing big hats and big flares.
You appear to identify with Alvy, are we right?
I don’t want to identify with him too much as he can come across rather hapless. He’s not hapless though, even though he has undertones of uselessness he’s actually a successful and wealthy stand-up comedian. Woody Allen captures the struggle of the present day in his films; his films reflect the struggle between success, failure, achievement and stardom.
Do you have any contemporary rom-com couples that you feel rival Annie and Alvy?
Well Meg Ryan and Billie Crystal got the right vibe in When Harry met Sally. Nora Ephron said that the two most important romantic comedy texts are Annie Hall and Pride and Prejudice; if you melt those two influences your can’t go wrong.
You've touched on the hilarity of the film, but obviously it’s also laced with sadness; how does Annie Hall strikes suck a perfect balance?
The audience understands that it’s not going to be a happy ending at the start of the film as the opening sentence of the movie is ‘Annie and I broke up’, but you’re still willing them to get back together. It’s about being bright enough to understand that Annie and Alvy have spent three wonderful years together. They couldn't make it work but they were perceptive enough to know that they had a dead shark on their hands.
With thanks to the Barbican and Sarah Harvey Publicity.