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Celebrity - 1998
Schõn. Reich. Beröhmt
Run Time: 113 minutes
Celebrity follows Lee Simon (Kenneth Branagh), a journalist, around over the course of one year. During this time Simon has interesting run-ins with some of Hollywood's most powerful celebrities, all the while searching for true love. He has recently divorced his wife of sixteen years, Robin (Judy Davis), after learing about a secret love affair. Many of the people Simon encounters include a blonde bombshell actress (Melanie Griffith), who gives him a tour of her small childhood home; a supermodel (Charlize Theron); a popular teen hunk (Leonardo DiCaprio), who trashes a hotel room and beats his girlfriend (Gretchen Mol), all the while telling her that he loves her; and a kind live-in lover (Famke Janssen).
While all of these people come and go through Simon's life, the woman he seems most right for is Nola (Winona Ryder), a waitress and struggling actress, despite their age difference. Meanwhile, the unhappy Robin, to her astonishment, meets a man (Joe Mantegna) in the talk show arena whom falls in love with her and gives her her first big break in showbiz, a profession she had never expected to enter.
Woody Allen's portrait of the celebrity life--as seen through the eyes of a newly divorced couple--is a black-and-white, New York-style La Dolce Vita that's a chillier flip side to Allen's earlier New York valentine, Manhattan. Despite a few missteps, though, it's an admirable (if dark) and worthy addition to the Allen pantheon. Kenneth Branagh and Judy Davis (both boasting American accents) star as the once-marrieds, each struggling to build new, separate lives in a media-saturated, celebrity-driven world. He tries his hands at celebrity profiles (while peddling a screenplay to any star that will listen) and falls into the lap of a bosomy starlet (Melanie Griffith), the first in a long line of briefly attainable women. She runs into a producer (Joe Mantegna) who offers her a job as a TV personality as well as a loving relationship. This seemingly simple double plot is punctuated with twists and turns in the form of flashbacks and innumerable side trips, all ravishingly photographed in black and white by the legendary Sven Nykvist, and populated by one of Allen's largest casts ever; if you blink you'll miss countless cameos by Isaac Mizrahi, Donald Trump, Hank Azaria, and a host of others.
While Davis is splendid as usual (aside from the requisite nervous breakdown scene she's done one too many times), somebody should have told Branagh to put a kibosh on his Woody Allen imitation, which is so impeccable as to become irritating. His failure in the role, however, isn't entirely his fault, as it's also another in a long line of unlikable male protagonists that Allen has created, as if daring audiences to hate his main characters after loving them in such movies as Manhattan and Annie Hall. He's never more unlikable than in a painful sequence in which he tags along with a spoiled, temperamental teen idol (a shrewd and clever Leonardo DiCaprio) and proves himself the quintessential noodge. Far more enjoyable misadventures with Branagh include Charlize Theron in the film's best performance as a libidinous supermodel with a penchant for echinacea; a stunning Famke Janssen as a successful book editor Branagh almost moves in with; and Winona Ryder, acting like an adult for the first time, as an aspiring actress who catches Branagh's eye more than once. All manage to slip through Branagh's fingers by the end of the film.
Despite the film's lack of focus, Allen aficionados will want this film for at least two wonderful moments, one in which Davis seeks solace from a streetwise fortune teller after she's fleeing her own wedding, and a beautiful nighttime scene in which Branagh romances a captivated Ryder at a subway kiosk. Both episodes prove that Allen, despite the fitful period he's moved into, still has that movie magic.
--Mark Englehart from Amazon.com
Budget: $12m (USA)
Gross:$5.032m (USA), UKP 462,200 (UK)
DEM 1,795,078 (Germany)
Production Dates: March 7, 1997 - April 12, 1997
Release Date: September 7, 1998 (Venice Film Festival), September 25, 1998 (NY Film Festival), November 20, 1998 (USA), December 19, 1998 (Italy), January 27, 1999 (France), April 8, 1999 (Germany), May 26, 1999 (Belguim), June 18, 1999 (UK), February 11, 2000 (Finland)
Song titles and information on music from the film Celebrity.
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Posters from different countries. Promotional.