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Sudden Manhattan1997

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  • 3.5
  • passes the bechdel test
A comedic urban fantasy which graphs the foibles of a young Manhattan resident, Donna, who's under siege in her own neighborhood. Laid off from her museum job, harassed by her love-obsessed landlord and simply uninspired to leave her own apartment, Donna's already complex life takes a turn for the worst when she inadvertently witnesses a murder. She then begins to doubt her own sanity as she encounters prophetic street poets, dysfunctional would-be boyfriends and love-deranged friends.

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Official selection of the 1996 Chicago International Film Festival.


1 member likes this review

Manhattan is the perfect setting for a story based on blurred lines between fantasy and reality, comedy and tragedy. I was really impressed with the originality of the script, and how well the whole thing was executed--especially considering it was Shelley's first feature. It made me want to see more films by female writer/directors, and especially ones about women in their twenties.

The scene in the movie where Donna calls her mother for help reminded me of a scene exactly like that in Maren Ade's THE FOREST FOR THE TREES. That movie was also written and directed by a young woman, I think a first feature, and came to mind as an interesting comparison. In both films, the protagonist is lonely in a city. It's a struggle for both, in very different ways, and when things are at their worst they do that childlike thing--they call mom. It was an understated scene that really resonated in both films.

In the interview on Keyframe, "At any given moment," Shelley says she likes directors with a clear vision, and that comes through in Sudden Manhattan. When Shelley made it, she really "took action," as her character tries to do so many times in the film.

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top reviewer

Member Reviews (4)

24251f25cc71f2dbe72075e495b595de?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2ffemale%2favatar f 0025
top reviewer

Well, Adrienne Shelley will never be confused with Nora Ephron, but who says she has to? A female early Woody Allen or Rob Reiner, possibly. The sound track is terribly lacking synchronization in some parts, but please stick with it. The confrontation scene with The Bearded Man in his apartment, a serial killer of 28 people and one large Great Dane, that lead character Donna has witnessed killing two people, more than makes up for earlier staggered humor. Some of the best dark humor written in the last 10 years. Lots of familiar faces, and a terrific performance by actress/writer/director Adrienne Shelley that is a true Orson Wellesian accomplishment, even if no one is going to think the flick is up there with Citizen Kane. Easy to see why this took awards. Every single element of The Bearded Man scene is right out of a wacko nightmare filled with crinkled laughter from its zany punchlines. Earlier lines after she has seen a murder; "What are you doing?" "I'm investigating." "I think you should let the police do the investigating." "C'mon, Alan, this is New York City; you know we don't have any real police here." Funny, funny film.

1 member likes this review
Picture?width=100&height=100
top reviewer

Manhattan is the perfect setting for a story based on blurred lines between fantasy and reality, comedy and tragedy. I was really impressed with the originality of the script, and how well the whole thing was executed--especially considering it was Shelley's first feature. It made me want to see more films by female writer/directors, and especially ones about women in their twenties.

The scene in the movie where Donna calls her mother for help reminded me of a scene exactly like that in Maren Ade's THE FOREST FOR THE TREES. That movie was also written and directed by a young woman, I think a first feature, and came to mind as an interesting comparison. In both films, the protagonist is lonely in a city. It's a struggle for both, in very different ways, and when things are at their worst they do that childlike thing--they call mom. It was an understated scene that really resonated in both films.

In the interview on Keyframe, "At any given moment," Shelley says she likes directors with a clear vision, and that comes through in Sudden Manhattan. When Shelley made it, she really "took action," as her character tries to do so many times in the film.

1 member likes this review
2e96eff8174b408fe68458c53c86b24b?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2ffemale%2favatar f 0025
top reviewer

I was looking for the film, but only got the trailer!

Occasionally amusing, but the plot never coheres.