Talking Movies: A Rainy Day in New York, American Animals and On Chesil Beach

Spling reviews A Rainy Day in New York, American Animals and On Chesil Beach as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Listen to podcast.


Good morning – welcome to Talking Movies, I’m Spling…

This week, we’re talking about a romance comedy, a heist thriller and a romance music drama.

Starting off with a film now on circuit…


A young couple arrive in New York for a weekend where they are met with bad weather and a series of adventures and misadventures.

Writer-Director: Woody Allen

Stars: Timothée Chalamet, Elle Fanning and Liev Schreiber

– Serving as divergent co-leads, we’re whisked away on a moody tour of New York with many wonderful backdrops and scenes.
– Allen tends to inject himself into all of his films much more than your average screenwriter.
– Channeling Woody-speak, the writing is typically biting, observational and often insightful, poking fun at no-go dinner table topics religion, politics and sex.
– New York quaint, character-driven, daydreaming about romance and pontificating about futilities, A Rainy Day in New York isn’t all that different from his other films.
– Unfortunately, the comedy does come with a hard slant of insincerity making it quite difficult to care for the characters, many of whom are representing Allen’s unique perspective.
– While this would work ordinarily, his cast aren’t as naturally charming as you might expect.
– With a thin veil of likeability, achieved through the stars and undermined by the characters, it just falls a little flat.
– It’s as if Allen took a few notes from Midnight in Paris, echoing the couple’s hotel point of departure, but splitting the protagonist in two.
– Each going their own way, he’s mixed the magic of a rain-drenched New York with the allure of celebrity, trading the time travel component for the cleansing power of rain over the Big Apple.
– It’s an elegantly crafted entry, which has some earmarks of Midnight in Paris, yet much less in terms of charm, delight and whimsy.
– While sporting some of the who’s who in Hollywood right now, it’s easy to admire yet difficult to resonate.

A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer

Moving on to a film now on Showmax…


Four young men mistake their lives for a movie and attempt one of the most audacious heists in U.S. history.

Writer-Director: Bart Layton

Stars: Evan Peters, Blake Jenner and Barry Keoghan

– When you thought that we had seen every possible version of a heist movie, along comes American Animals
– relaying the details of a true heist story, documentary and dramatisation intermingle as the four men themselves explain their involvement, regrets and where it all went wrong
– while the genre interplay may remind you of Man on Wire, American animals has just as much urgency and suspense
– dealing with some powerful themes and deep-running ironies relating to doing something extraordinary with your life, this isn’t just a superficial art heist thriller
– while the theft may revolve around some expensive artworks, this doesn’t stop it from being artful in itself with several imaginative and effective sequences
– beautifully realised, this original thriller remains compelling and even thought-provoking as writer-director Bart Layton keeps us off balance with unreliable storytellers and the precarious balance of real versus illusion
– cleverly juxtaposing the actual members of the heist with their actor counterparts, we get a daring tale of several youths who are in too deep, spurring each other on to greater treachery
– while the cast are relatively unknown, they do a great job of anchoring their characters with short, sharp bursts of screen time

An excellent 8 on the splingometer!

And finally, another film streaming on Showmax…


In 1962 England, a young couple find their idyllic romance colliding with issues of sexual freedom and societal pressure, leading to an awkward and fateful wedding night.

Director: Dominic Cooke

Stars: Billy Howle, Saoirse Ronan and Emily Watson

– On Chesil Beach is based on Ian McEwan’s novel of the same name
– while Sam Mendes was attached to direct at one point with Carey Mulligan set to star, he fell to the allure of 007 with Skyfall
– the Ian McEwan adaptation, written by McEwan, eventually went to Dominic Cooke with Saoirse Ronan opposite Billy Howle
– pivoting on the consummation of their marriage, the touching romance music drama deals with class and sexuality as two young people bring all of their troubles into their unsteady relationship
– this is a handsomely mounted melodrama that aims for a wistful and haunting tone
– On Chesil Beach may wrestle with some contentious matters, but it ultimately is a little underwhelming and wispy
– Howle and Ronan are good but not great together, hampered by a clunky script that feels like there are missing pieces with several flashbacks making it a bit difficult to connect with the characters and establish a free-flowing narrative
– the various bits-and-pieces don’t hang together, making it a chore for the actors and a disappointment for McEwan fans
– it’s not bad, it just seems patchy, as if it had undergone an overhaul or been salvaged

A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer

So just to wrap up…

A RAINY DAY IN NEW YORK… while aloof and cold-hearted, Woody Allen delivers an elegant, entertaining and star-studded slice of New York… A satisfactory 6

AMERICAN ANIMALS… a curious, compelling, original and beautifully realised heist documentary thriller hybrid… An excellent 8

ON CHESIL BEACH… while incoherent, good performances, thought-provoking themes and handsome film-making rescue this wispy melodrama… A satisfactory 6

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