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Written by Timothy Sexton
“A relationship, I think, is like a shark, you know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.”
This is the quote that pretty well sums up the narrative thrust of Annie Hall. Woody Allen’s movie broke the one inviolate rule of the romantic comedy: the couple do not end up together in the end. Why? Because their relationship was like a shark. And that shark stopped moving forward.
“Alvy, you're incapable of enjoying life, you know that?”
The original title of the screenplay that ultimately became Annie Hall was “Anhedonia.” That is the psychological term for a disorder characterized by an incapacity to feel enjoyment or happiness. When Annie accuses Alvy of being an island unto himself, she is not just complaining that putting down his beloved hometown, she is referencing a distinctive character trait of that city that many outsiders believe to be accurate.
One of the few quotes to make the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Quotes from the first 100 years of American movies is not an actual sentence and the only one that doesn’t even feature an actual word. The delivery of the line is central to the film premise that Annie and Alvy are fundamentally incompatible even in light of the truism about love it consistently demonstrates: opposites attract.
“I don't want to move to a city where the only cultural advantage is being able to make a right turn on a red light.”
Underlying the love the story between Annie and Alvy is the love story that Alvy has with New York City. The antithesis of everything that Alvy loves about New York is located in Los Angeles…at least as he sees it. His perspective is perhaps parched from the lack of adequate nourishment that comes from possessing an open mind, but his mind is set and thus shaped to attribute a newfound lack of respect for Annie when she seems to so easily acclimate and assimilate into the West Coast culture. Or, as Alvy might see things, the lack thereof.
"I forgot my mantra."
Woody Allen takes aim at religion throughout the film and with the lone line spoken by a very young Jeff Goldblum. This quote is another shot directed toward what Alvy views as the lack of culture in Los Angeles as underlying its significance is the suggestion that those who call Hollywood their home are intensely neurotic due to latching onto fads that appear in the guise of deep spiritual movements.
“Love is too weak a word for what—I lurve you. You know, I loave you. I luff you, with two F's. Yes, I have to invent… of course I do. Don't you think I do?”
Ye thinks Alvy protests too much? Important to notice here is the exact combination of words that Alvy does not and indeed never uses to describe the feelings he has for Annie. He may be forthright and open and honest about lurving Annie and loaving her, but he never once actually says “I love you.” Perhaps what these two have, after all, is less a dead fish than an uncommitted half. Or should that be harlf?
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