Woody Allen: Shadows and Fog

(USA, 1991, 85 mins, 35mm)
Director:
CAST Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Madonna, John Malkovich, Kenneth Mars, Julie Kavner, Jodie Foster, John Cusack

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Not Woody’s most beloved film, to be sure, but this curious all-star hommage to German Expressionism is both a uniquely perverse enterprise and a real hoot. It’s a Kafkaesque comedy based on Allen’s earlier one-act play, unpromisingly titled "Death". Allen himself plays Kleinman, a clerk in an unnamed central European country who is reluctantly pulled into a vigilante hunt for a serial killer. The same night he befriends a young woman (Mia Farrow), who has run away from the circus. It’s not long before suspicion falls on Kleinman, of course. Orson Welles always claimed he considered "The Trial" to be a comedy, and Allen certainly seems to be of like mind. The astonishing black and white cinematography by Antonioni’s regular DP, Carlo di Palma, evokes many of German’s cinema’s foundational works, and ensures that whatever else it may be, Shadows and Fog is certainly one of Allen’s most visually striking movies.