Zelig

Synopsis: Mr. Personality? Or Mr. Personality disorder? Find out in Woody Allen’s madcap mockumentary about an identity crisis of hilarious proportions! Thematically intricate, technically complex and filled with some of the most astonishing special effects ever, Zelig is “pure magic” (Newsweek)! Nominated for two Oscars®, this “work of breathtaking virtuosity” (Playboy) is further proof that Allen “is the premier American filmmaker of his day” (The New York Times)!

Leonard Zelig (Allen) is a social quick-change artist whose neurotic insecurity forces him to mimic – mentally and physically – whomever he’s with. Treated by Dr. Eudora Fletcher (Farrow), Zelig is slowly cured, and in the process goes form side-shoe freak to national celebrity – to Eudora’s fiancé! But when misdeeds from Zelig’s multiple-personality past start to surface (larceny, bigamy and an unauthorized appendectomy), the human chameleon is on the run again, and Eudora must search the world over to find – and save – the only man who’s every man she’s ever wanted!
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Zelig 8.5

Along the same lines as ‘The Butterfly Effect”, here is a movie that is technically of the sci-fi genre, but not in a “laser battles in space” sort of way.

‘Zelig’ is actually a comedy about a man who can adapt to his environment like a chameleon. A marvel of science, Leonard Zelig changes his appearance, adapts his speech and skills for better integration with the people around him.

Thus, he is found mixing with all levels of society, even (at one point) finding himself at the Pope’s side. His metamorphosis is so convinving that very few notice that something is amiss. But, when the world does wake up, he becomes a celebrity, astonishing the masses with his abilities and antics.

‘Zelig’ was filmed in black and white, as a pseudo-documentary, complete with interview bits with so-called experts; it (almost) seemlessly blends Allen into historical footage and turns world history slightly on its head. Sure, it can be silly, but it’s mostly credible and you could actually believe that these event took place.

…if you didn’t know any better, that is.

Bottom line: the acting is superb, the story is a breath of fresh air (I don’t recall anything else like it), and the humour is spot on. It hits the notes just right and it’s a rather good time. In fact, unique and inventive as it is, it would be absolutely fitting for a follow-up group discussion.

In my humble opinion, this is one of Woody Allen’s best films (top 5 for sure!).

(nota bene: I’m actually wavering between 8.5 and 9.0, but I decided to rate it lower to be on the safe side)

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