Zelig | Chicago Reader

Zelig

87 minutes

As critic Jean-Pierre Coursodon has noted, Woody Allen's greatest talent is as an imitator; this short mock documentary (1983) allows him to imitate newsreel footage, Citizen Kane, The Sorrow and the Pity, Reds, and even his own old ideas (Take the Money and Run) while telling the story of an imitator—an imaginary celebrity of the 1920s who became famous for his ability to physically become everyone he met. It sounds perfect, but the format fits Allen like a straitjacket, limiting him to one joke endlessly repeated while allowing him to indulge only his increasingly irritating reflections on the American public's misunderstanding of his genius. The feeble attempt to establish a love story between Zelig and his psychoanalyst (Mia Farrow) does not survive the frigidity of the concept. A gray little nothing of a movie.

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