Deconstructing Harry (1997)



Dir: Woody Allen - Cast: Woody Allen, Judy Davis, Kristie Alley, Richard Benjamin, Bob Balaban, Billy Crystal, Elisabeth Shue, Tobey McGuire, Paul Giamatti, Stanley Tucci, Demi Moore, Mariel Hemingway, Amy Irving, Robin Williams

A great comedy drama, along with Husbands and Wives (1992) Woody’s finest movie from the 90s. Woody is Harry Brown, a sex-obsessed author who lived through three marriages and numerous affairs. So far things seemed to go his way: he went to psychiatrists (six different ones) while others went nuts (including that one psychiatrist who became his wife), but now it’s pay-back time:  his real-life friends and lovers as well as the characters he created are trying to seek redress. Worst of all: his latest flame, a young admirer, has left him for a friend ...

Once again Woody gets the very best out of a great ensemble cast. Virtually everybody is in great form, but kudos go to Kristie Alley (as the psychiatrist/wife going nuts) and Elisabeth Shue (as the young lover who abandons him). There are also nice cameos by Demi Moore and the late Robin Williams (as a man who’s - literally - out of focus!). According to some, the character of Harry Brown was based on Philip Roth, not on Woody himself.

# Some notes on the title:
I don’t know if Woody has really studied Derrida, he’ll probably know him from popularized articles on his work, but the film does  illustrate the idea of deconstruction in relation to truth (in this case the truth behind Harry Brown’s character and work): peeling off layer after layer without ever getting to the core (which doesn’t exist: truth is compared to an onion, you can peel off ring after ring, but will never get to the onion itself, since the peeled off rings are part of it, like the peeled off layers are part of the truth; in other words: like the onion, the truth is hiding itself)

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