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It is a commonly said that Woody Allenís older films were better, and Stranger will do nothing to convince the viewer otherwise. This dull, unimaginative, and lazy film feels like a far cry from the guy who brought us Buster Keaton inspired robots. A friend once described Sleeper as seemingly written by two people, where the second, unfunny one gets to sit at the typewriter half the time. In Stranger, that second person has locked the first in the toilet and gone to town on this script.
Stranger is a bunch of stories, each about a person contemplating adultery, and each as unoriginal as the last. As a vehicle for comedy, it could have potentially worked with a young Woody Allen playing the lead. Instead we get a bunch of esteemed but clearly uncomfortable actors reciting the weakest of lines with no comedic timing whatsoever. Allen attempted to write English characters before in Match Point, and the dialogue sounded just as artificial back then as it does now, ten years later. He desperately needs someone to look over his work, just to point out how stilted most of the wording would sound to UK ears.
On top of the rubbish language is the laziness of the writing. The movie establishes a bunch of stories; the troubled writer who falls for his neighbour, the PA who has a crush on her boss, the retiree who marries a hooker, and it doesnít even bother to resolve most of them by the end. What did we gain from any of this? I donít know. All I know is what I lost, which was two hours to a movie that offers nothing but unhealthy, unenjoyable, first draft of an idea rushed out to pay the bills.
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