Monday, November 22, 2010

#108. A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982)

Directed By: Woody Allen

Starring: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, José Ferrer

Tag line: "Six characters in search of love"

Trivia: Woody Allen once said that this film and September were his "two biggest financial disasters"

Years ago, when school would let out for the summer, I always made it a point to watch Woody Allen's A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy at the beginning of my first week of vacation. For me, A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy was the perfect embodiment of the season: the days and nights are captured so vividly in this film that you can actually feel the warmth in the air.

Based loosely on Ingmar Bergman’s Smiles of a Summer Night, A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy is set in the early days of the 20th century. Andrew (Woody Allen) and his wife, Adrien (Mary Steenburgen), have invited two other couples to spend the weekend at their summer cottage in upstate New York: Dr. Maxwell Jordan (Tony Roberts), a general practitioner and notorious womanizer, accompanied by his nurse, Dulcy (Julie Hagerty); and Adrien’s cousin, Leopold (Jose Ferrer), a professor of philosophy, who’s joined by his fiancé, Ariel (Mia Farrow). As it turns out, Andrew dated Ariel years earlier, and fears her presence will only complicate his already faltering marriage. Things get even more confused when Maxwell falls in love with Ariel, and tells Andrew he can’t live another day without her, while Leopold, looking for one final fling before he ties the knot, sets his sights on nurse Dulcy.

Romantic entanglements aside, A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy is a gorgeous film, with a handful of stunning scenes set in the great outdoors. Allen explores the natural beauty of the area (the movie was shot primarily in New York's Pocancito Hills) by way of a series of montages, all of which are set to the music of Mendelssohn. There are meals served outdoors in the shadow of the setting sun, and strolls through the woods that lead to debates on the poisonous nature of mushrooms. This is not your typical angst-ridden Woody Allen comedy, but a movie of incredible optimism, intensified by the inspiring splendor of a beautiful summer’s day. If you’re ever looking for a pick-me-up on those cold winter evenings, you can’t do much better than this film.


Unknown said...

Yes, you're so right about this movie! One of Woody's best; reminiscent of Ingmar Bergman's classic comedy "Smiles of a Summer Night" (1955), which probably had some influence. Shame that Mia Farrow remains so underrated. In all of the flicks she made with Woody, she shines! And here is not exception.

DVD Infatuation said...

HotJaca: I'm also a fan of Bergman's SMILES, and I think you're right: It inspired Allen to make this film.

And I agree with you about Mia Farrow. Would you believe that, at the time, she was nominated for a Razzie for her performance here, for Worst Actress? I think that's ridiculous. She was good in the role.

Thanks for the comment, and for stopping by.