The movie opens on a summer day on Coney Island.
Fun is fair, fair is fun
(Foul is fair, fair is foul)
The image of the wheel—seen in the opening shot and at the end, and suggested throughout—casts a shadow over the sandy beach.
The wheel of life is turning, mistakes are repeated, patterns come and go. Recur.
The tragic side of the human condition beyond the fun dimension of Coney Island
The sense of unraveling
Resilience and endurance.
With a bit of cynicism, perhaps.
Mickey’s gift to Ginny: A play by Eugene O’Neill
Some dirge is heard, as in Long Day’s Journey into Night.
And in A Streetcar Named Desire.
Woody Allen returns to the world of theatre
And conjures up the character of Blanche Dubois previously explored in Blue Jasmine.
Beyond the kaleisdoscopic glitter of intertextual references
The movie is structured and filmed like a play
Witty and quick dialogue
A sense of entrapment
A series of tableaux
A narrator who is both a voice over and a protagonist
The voice over feeling like an artificial intrusion
Like soliloquies at the theatre.
Characters storm in and out of rooms that feel like a set on a stage— “circumstances” that the actors have to inhabit, following the lead of the Method. Prop-like objects come and go
Lines are uttered
The protagonists become larger than the filmic script
“High galaxies over a fear of falling” in Arthur Miller’s image.
Yearnings and longings
Aspirations and dreams
Women trapped in bad marriages
Carolina and her violent gangster husband
Ginny and her alcoholic husband Humpty
The son Richie setting things on fire
Addicted to a sense of danger and collapse
Blanche’s scream “fire, fire” can be heard very distinctly now
A symptom of the paroxysm of feelings and emotions
Human life on the edge.
Some intuition of the violence done to women: Humpty threatening and tender, tender and threatening, in another move of the wheel turning.
The wheel bringing back Carolina’s past
Snatching her and lifting her out of sight
Women and love
The watch as the pathetic excess of unrequited infatuation,
The lavish expenditure of passion—felt and lost.
The wheel keeps turning, life goes on:
Stanley Kowalski resumes his poker game
Humpty will go fishing
Ginny’s common points with Mary Tyrone and Blanche Dubois:
A Janus-faced personality: beautiful and loving, bitter and cynical
A first love, the quest to retrieve that happiness, an inability to heal
Aloofness and withdrawal
Longing for a past that can no longer be
Lies and conceits
Memories and nostalgia
Performing and imagining: escaping
Mary and her wedding-dress
Blanche and her “mardi-gras outfit”
All three haunted by aging and the passing of time.
The fun party-like atmosphere of Coney Island and the Ferris wheel:
The wonder that carnival and circus bring to our existence.
The glitter and shine.
The gilded space of the American dream
Lifting you up, bringing you high
Until the (inevitable) turn of the wheel brings you right down.
Inner dreams and longings beyond food and domesticity
The woman under the work outfit.
A momentary escape
The upcoming storm
A lifeguard that offers no protection
In the end.
A beach and footprints erased by unavoidable waves
Human happiness: fleeting and temporary,
The fragile and vulnerable dimension of any human endeavor.