A Midsummer’s Night Sex Comedy is a slightly unappreciated Woody Allen treasure. As a lot of his films, it is written, directed by, and stars him. True, perhaps it is not his best work, however it is definitely worth your time. It opened in July 1982, and is about to face a re-release on Blu-ray. This is definitely exciting news for Allen’s fans out there, however I believe its reception today can be different to the one in the ’80s. That is the funny thing about the reception of art, whether it be a film, a painting or a book, it’s welcomed with different reactions following the initial release, the re-watching after 5 years, 30 years… In the eyes of some today’s viewers the director’s scandals might overshadow his talent, and I do not blame them. It is difficult to look at an artist and his work as two separate beings – is it even possible? I will attempt to do so.
Midsummer’s Night Sex Comedy is whimsical, quirky and sunny. It will make you burst out in laughter and it will make you ponder over life. Those characteristics aren’t at all unusual to Allen, however this one is slightly brighter, more romanticised. It is a typical Allen classic in the form of an Impressionist painting. The action takes place in the countryside – there you can see Andrew, a small and wacky inventor with big round glasses making witty comments (of course played by Woody Allen himself). And there walks Adrian, his beautiful, but visibly frustrated wife (played by Mary Steenburgen), welcoming the guests – her distinguished philosopher cousin Leopold (Jose Ferrer) and his distinctly younger fiancée Ariel (Mia Farrow making her first appearance in an Allen films) – who are spending a weekend in the country. And to add even more humour in the mix, part of the guest list are also Andrew’s best friend Maxwell (played by Tony Roberst), an acclaimed doctor and a champion womanizer, and, to top it all off, his newest girlfriend Dulcy (played by Julie Hagerty), a nurse and a free-thinking modern woman.
This mingle of couples ends up in a slight chaos. Everyone sneaks around each other’s back, new romances develop, old ones illuminate once more. Seems like your typical romantic comedy, but Woody Allen can’t leave his viewers without something extra. Our wacky inventor’s inventions work in this film, and indeed play a significant role in the plot. He flies around on a bike with a propeller and summons the past what turns out to be the future with a metal ball. So truly this is a film about science, spirits, sex, sex and sex, and how all of that can take control of a reasonable man (or woman). It is also about life itself, about how we will forever regret something we did not do more than something we did do, and even if we will get a chance to make it up, it will not be the same. So whether you’re a fan of Woody Allen or not, (re)watching this film will definitely make you grab another of his films to watch. It is brilliant how old films can find a new life in new releases, to keep reminding people that cinema was not always about green screens and excessive CGI.
Dir: Woody Allen
Scr: Woody Allen
Cast: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Jose Ferrer, Julie Hagerty, Tony Roberts, Mary Steenburgen
Prd: Robert Greenhut
DOP: Gordon Willis
Music: Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (as Mendelssohn)
Run Time: 88 minutes
A Midsummer Night’s Comedy is out on Blu-ray 12th December.