VENICE, Italy—It’s a return to form for Woody Allen! That’s right, a return to the form of 2015’s Irrational Man, which saw Parker Posey playing a character under the age of 70 called “Rita,” and Joaquin Phoenix saying, “Where do you want to run away to? Tahiti, like Paul Gauguin?”
Which is to say that nobody in a Woody Allen film has uttered a single sentence that an actual person would say for the best part of 20 years. His films are filled to the gills with cheap exposition, crass character building, hollowed-out dialogue, and the odd sub-New Yorker comic strip punchline. As usual, in Coup de Chance, which premiered Monday at the Venice Film Festival, there is a married young woman who has an affair, and a suspicious husband; as so often, especially in Allen’s terrible late style, the theme of chance plays a great big role, doled out glibly. There is a prying mother-in-law. In fact, I entered the request “Write the plot of a Woody Allen film set in Paris, with a wife cheating on her husband, and containing the theme of chance” into ChatGPT and it’s truly astounding how close the bot got.
“The film opens with Lucas and Emily’s seemingly happy marriage slowly unraveling. Emily’s discontentment with her mundane life becomes evident as she frequents Parisian art galleries and social events while Lucas remains immersed in his philosophical musings about chance,” reads the opening AI paragraph. Nearly! In Coup de Chance, it’s Jean and Fanny’s seemingly happy marriage that is slowly unraveling, and Fanny’s discontentment with her mundane life becomes evident as she frequents Parisian art galleries and social events. It’s Fanny’s lover, Alain, who gives us his philosophical musings about chance.