Movie of the week: Rifkin's Festival

1 June 2021 Teo Chepilov
Woody Allen is the most stable director on the planet and although he is 85, he does not stop releasing a film every year. With the Rifkin Festival, the New Yorker is celebrating his 50th birthday.

At this stage of his career, he has already built such a specific style that it is simply impossible to mistake his handwriting with anyone else. It's no coincidence that among fans and movie buffs, his next contribution to the seventh art is known simply as "Woody Allen's new film." This is exactly what the Rifkin Festival is - it is not the greatest film in history, but it has classes above most productions that are fighting for our attention in the oversaturated movie poster lately. Most importantly - it will not disappoint fans of the director, because it contains all the elements that we love so much. A biting dialogue with ironic hints, an abundance of twists and a deep penetrating sadness for the burden of existence.

The story takes us to the divine resort town of San Sebastian, located in the middle of the Bay of Biscay in Spain, where the festival of the title takes place. We meet Mort Rifkin, a not-so-successful movie buff and former university professor struggling to finish his first novel. A more serious problem in life, however, is his much younger and extremely attractive wife, which is actually the reason they are at the event at all. She is working on the PR campaign for a new film by a French director, whom everyone considers a genius. Rifkin himself has a special opinion about the young man's work, as well as the nature of the relationship between him and his wife. As a icing on this sad cake come the pains in the heart of the protagonist, which lead to medical intervention and a series of complications.

The cast is significantly more modest than the names we're used to seeing in Woody Allen's productions, but it does a great job. Wallace Sean as Mort Rifkin does a great job of getting into the shoes of the neurotic, slightly crazy character, the protagonist in most of the director's films. Sean already has an enviable experience with Woody Allen after watching him in Manhattan, Radio Days, Shadows and Fog, Melinda and Melinda, and The Jade Scorpion Curse. Gina Gershon (Borrowed, Bonded, Inner) adorns the screen as his mate, and Louis Garrel (Dreamers, Little Women) annoys in a rather amusing way.

The Rifkin Festival is definitely not one of those films that will change the world, but it inevitably raises questions about the meaning of life. From the position of a legend at the end of his career, Woody Allen has every right to ask them. The answers remain for the viewer, as well as the feeling of incomplete but sufficient satisfaction.


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