In what is arguably Woody Allen's last masterpiece, Deconstructing Harry sees Allen play a deeply flawed character who is terrible at life and can only function through his work. Only the versions of himself that he himself creates when writing his short stories and novels are quirky and lovable, the real Harry Block (who incidentally suffers from writer's block, geddit?) is something else entirely.
How many Woody Allen movies do you know where the guy not only swears constantly but plays a character who openly claims to love whores (his words)?
Pretty great already lol
Yes we get to know Harry and deconstruct his character through both his far-out stories and several glimpses into his everyday life. We get to see the people around him both as what they are and as how he sees them, same goes for himself. Harry isn't the nicest of guys and is actually a pretty dislikable person altogether but by the end of the film you'll still like him, or you'll understand his character at least. Once again, an all-star cast peppers Allen's film with even the likes of Jennifer Garner and Paul Giamatti showing up for like half a minute. You've got Tobey Maguire as a horny shoe-salesman who hires a Chinese prostitute only to have Death literally knock on his door (mistaking him for someone else), Robin Williams as an (again, literally) out-of-focus actor whose family is made to wear specific glasses in order for them to see him properly, Billy Crystal as The Devil and the likes of Elizabeth Shue, Julia-Louis Dreyfus, Bob Balaban, Kirstie Alley, Judy Davis and many others thrown in for lols.
It's an eclectic mix of vignettes but somehow Allen makes it work as a whole. The film wants to be fragmented in order to mirror the main character's state of mind and this is reflected even through the intentionally jumpy editing style. As fiction and reality get more and more blurred for Harry Block, for us, this brings the originally disjointed film together into something that not only makes sense but probably says more about Allen himself than a lot of his other movies. It's an ingeniously made little film with loads of great ideas, ideas which would have worked as part of an Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask-style compilation but which, it turns out, can also work as one self-contained movie. Deconstructing Harry is a fun and unique look at the psychological process of creating and the, sometimes not-so-subtle, barriers that exist between an artist and their work.
Overall, I'd say this is essential viewing for any Woody Allen fan: it's smart, funny, surreal, unique and fascinating. Its ending may be a tad too easy compared to everything else but this is a movie which knows its clever but never stops having a sense of humour about itself making it a surprisingly balanced film and a truly enjoyable and rewarding watch.
One of Allen's most interesting films.