Rifkin's Festival

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Rifkin's Festival
Rifkin's Festival poster.jpg
Official poster
Directed byWoody Allen
Written byWoody Allen
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyVittorio Storaro
Edited byAlisa Lepselter
Music byStephane Wrembel
Production
companies
Distributed by
  • Tripictures (Spain)
  • Vision Distribution (Italy)
  • MPI Media Group (United States)
Release dates
  • September 18, 2020 (2020-09-18) (Zinemaldia)
  • October 2, 2020 (2020-10-02) (Spain)
  • January 28, 2022 (2022-01-28) (United States)
Running time
92 minutes[1]
Countries
  • United States
  • Spain
  • Italy
LanguageEnglish
Box office$2.3 million[2]

Rifkin's Festival is a 2020 comedy film, written and directed by Woody Allen. An American-Spanish-Italian co-production, it stars Wallace Shawn, Elena Anaya, Louis Garrel, Gina Gershon, Sergi López, and Christoph Waltz. It premiered at the 68th San Sebastián International Film Festival on September 18, 2020, and was released in Spain on October 2, 2020, by Tripictures. A short plot summary appeared in The Guardian on September 4, 2019, stating: "The movie, Rifkin’s Festival, is about a couple who fall in love while in town for the San Sebastián film festival, drawing on the annual event as the backdrop to a romantic comedy."[3]

On January 28, 2022, the film began a limited release in United States theaters and on streaming services.[4]

Plot[edit]

Mort Rifkin, a snobby elderly film critic from New York, is telling his therapist about the recent developments in his life. In the recount, he's accompanying his much younger wife Sue to a film festival in San Sebastián. She works as a press agent for Philippe, a French director whose banal and derivative anti-war film is being universally celebrated as a masterpiece, to Mort's chagrin. Mort quickly becomes jealous of Sue and Philippe's relationship, which increasingly moves into open flirtation. Mort's inner thoughts and fears causes him to have nightmares inspired by well-known black and white cinematic classics like Citizen Kane, Breathless, Jules and Jim, Persona, Wild Strawberries, The Exterminating Angel, and .

While at the festival, Mort reminisces about his life and the pretentious novel that he's been writing for decades, trying to achieve a literary relevance that eludes him. He reflects upon his younger years when he used to teach cinema at the university and felt happy and stimulated. Meanwhile, he's helpless to keep Sue and Philippe from spending time with each other. Eventually, he seeks medical advice about some chest pains and meets Joanna "Jo" Rojas, a Spanish doctor who spent some time in New York and is now unhappily married with an unfaithful, temperamental artist. Joanna leaves a lasting impression on Mort and he repeatedly tries to engage her attention by faking health issues. Eventually, the two go on a sight-seeing drive through the surrounding country, both having a good time in the process.

On their way back to town, a flat tire forces Joanna and Mort to hitchhike back to Joanna's home, where she discovers her husband cheating on her with one of his models. The two have a bitter fight, then Joanna takes Mort back to his hotel. Here, Sue confronts Mort about their deteriorating relationship, eventually announcing she's leaving him to start a new life with Philippe. The next morning, Mort calls Joanna, hoping to see her again before he has to return to New York, but she politely declines, despite harboring some affection for Mort and doubts about her own marriage's toxicity.

Finally, Mort imagines himself playing chess with Death in a parody of Ingmar Bergman's 1957 film The Seventh Seal. Death tells him that human life is ultimately meaningless, but doesn't need to be empty. In a parting word of advice, Death tells Mort that he will see him again in the future, but Mort might win some extra time by making sure to exercise and to avoid processed foods. As the festival reaches its closing day, Mort reflects upon his changed circumstances, pondering going back to being a teacher, this time with a less rigid attitude towards art. Back in New York, he asks his therapist what he should do now.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

In February 2019, Amazon Studios dropped Allen from a five-picture deal to produce and finance films, following the revival of the sexual abuse allegations made against him in 1992.[5] That month, it was announced Allen would write and direct the film, with Jaume Roures producing under his Mediapro banner.[6] In June 2019, Gina Gershon, Christoph Waltz, Elena Anaya, Louis Garrel, Sergi López and Wallace Shawn joined the cast.[7] In July 2020, Richard Kind announced he would appear in the film.[8]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography began July 10, 2019, in San Sebastián, Spain and ended on August 16, a week ahead of schedule.[9][10]

Release[edit]

In April 2020, Tripictures acquired distribution rights to the film in Spain.[11] It had its world premiere at the 68th San Sebastián International Film Festival on September 18, 2020[12] and was released in Spain on October 2, 2020.[13] It was previously scheduled to be released in Spain on September 25.[14] It was scheduled to be released in Italy on November 5, 2020, by Vision Distribution,[15] but it was postponed to May 6, 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On January 28, 2022, the film began a limited release in United States theaters and on streaming services.[4]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

As of May 28, 2021, the film has grossed $768,449 in Spain and 1.8 million worldwide (Spain, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Italy and Russia).[2][16]

Critical reception[edit]

Rifkin's Festival holds a 53% approval rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 17 reviews, with an average rating of 4.9/10.[17] On Metacritic, it holds a weighted average score of 43 out of 100, based on 6 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[18]

Jonathan Romney of The Observer gave the film three stars out of five and stated, "In some ways, Rifkin’s Festival is absolutely familiar Allen territory, and, whatever else his detractors can or can’t accuse him of, there’s no way he’ll get off the charge of ploughing the same ground for the last couple of decades. Once again, he has made a brittle comedy about marital angst in a glamorous setting."[19] Jessica Kiang of The New York Times commented, "So it’s a relief to report that “Rifkin’s Festival” is, to the ravenous captive, like finding an unexpected stash of dessert: not substantial and not nutritious, but sweet enough to remind you in passing of the good times you once had, despite all that's happened in the interim."[20] Guy Lodge of Variety added, "His 49th feature, “Rifkin’s Festival” is the latest in a lengthy string of undistinguished bagatelles that might all be described as effortless, and not in an especially complimentary fashion."[21]

In a less favorable review, Kaleem Aftab of IndieWire gave the movie a C grade, writing, " There's a strange meta quality to the way the movie drifts around, dipping in and out of a tepid plot. Of course, there's no surprise here. Like a lot of recent Allen movies, it's easy enough to figure out the intentions at hand early on."[22] Chuck Bowen of Slant Magazine gave the film one star out of four, noting "Decades into his iconic career, Woody Allen is still fixated on wannabe intellectual artists obsessively grappling with the meaninglessness of life as they have dalliances with much younger women who’re yearning for passion. That scenario was curdling into shtick some 40 years ago, but it at least felt personal to Allen in his salad days, when he was determined to fuse the existential agony of the films made by his heroes with his own scrappy, impertinent stand-up spirit. Now Allen is seemingly filming whatever writing spills from his typewriter, which is more often than not a copy of a copy of a copy of past hits, material so anachronistic and contrived that it feels closer to ritual than art."[23]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2021 8th Feroz Awards Best Film Poster Jordi Labanda Won [24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Rifkin's Festival". San Sebastian Film Festival. Archived from the original on October 26, 2020. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Rifkin's Festival - Financial Information". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Archived from the original on January 21, 2021. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  3. ^ Agirre-Maskariano, Mikel (September 4, 2019). "The last thing my city needs is Woody Allen selling us to the world". The Guardian. London, England: Guardian Media Group. Archived from the original on May 6, 2021. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Woody Allen's 'Rifkin's Festival' Is Opening in U.S. Theaters". Retrieved January 29, 2022.
  5. ^ Gardner, Eriq (February 7, 2019). "Woody Allen Sues Amazon for Terminating Movie Deal". The Hollywood Reporter. Los Angeles, California: Eldridge Industries. Archived from the original on February 8, 2019. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  6. ^ Maddus, Gene (February 7, 2019). "Woody Allen Files $68 Million Suit Against Amazon for Film Deal Breach". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Archived from the original on February 7, 2019. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  7. ^ Galuppo, Mia (June 4, 2019). "Woody Allen Sets New Feature With Christoph Waltz, Gina Gershon". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on July 9, 2019. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  8. ^ Wilstein, Matt (July 15, 2020). "Richard Kind Defends Woody Allen: 'I Just Don't Buy It'". The Daily Beast. Archived from the original on June 12, 2021. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
  9. ^ Buckley, Cara (June 4, 2019). "Christoph Waltz Is Among the Stars Set for Woody Allen's New Film". The New York Times. Archived from the original on August 8, 2021. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  10. ^ Lang, Jaime; Hopewell, John (July 9, 2019). "Woody Allen's Next Film After 'A Rainy Day in New York' to Be Sold by FilmNation, Mediapro". Variety. Archived from the original on July 9, 2019. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  11. ^ Grater, Tom (April 22, 2020). "Woody Allen's 'Rifkin's Festival' Secures Spain Distribution". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on March 7, 2021. Retrieved April 22, 2020.
  12. ^ Grater, Tom (June 25, 2020). "Woody Allen's 'Rifkin's Festival' To Open San Sebastian Fest". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on August 5, 2021. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  13. ^ "Trailer for 'Rifkin's Festival', Woody Allen's new comedy". explica.co. September 11, 2020. Retrieved September 14, 2020.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ Aldarondo, Ricardo (May 1, 2020). "Aunque Woody Allen no pueda venir, el Festival aspira a tener la premiere de su película en San Sebastián»". El Diario Vasco. Archived from the original on November 4, 2021. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  15. ^ ""Rifkin's Festival", esce il 5 novembre il nuovo film di Woody Allen". Il Messaggero. October 1, 2020. Archived from the original on November 4, 2021. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  16. ^ "Rifkin's Festival". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Archived from the original on August 18, 2021. Retrieved May 25, 2021.
  17. ^ "Rifkin's Festival (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Archived from the original on July 18, 2021. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  18. ^ "Rifkin's Festival". Metacritic. Archived from the original on August 18, 2021. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
  19. ^ Romney, Jonathan (September 18, 2020). "Rifkin's Festival review – Woody Allen's latest is a cinephile's dream (but only literally)". The Guardian. Archived from the original on August 10, 2021. Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  20. ^ Kiang, Jessica (September 18, 2020). "'Rifkin's Festival' Review: Woody Allen Travels to Movie Memory Lane". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 20, 2021. Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  21. ^ Lodge, Guy (September 18, 2020). "'Rifkin's Festival' Review: The San Sebastián Sun Can't Heat Up Another Tepid Woody Allen Outing". Variety. Archived from the original on July 19, 2021. Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  22. ^ Aftab, Kaleem (September 18, 2020). "'Rifkin's Festival' Review: Woody Allen Makes Fun of Film History in Strange Self-Reflective Comedy". IndieWire. Archived from the original on July 19, 2021. Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  23. ^ Bowen, Chuck (February 21, 2021). "Review: Rifkin's Festival Is a Complacently Tossed-Off Misfire for Woody Allen". Slant Magazine. Archived from the original on July 18, 2021. Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  24. ^ Gonzálvez, Paula M. (March 2, 2021). "La lista de ganadores de los premios Feroz 2021". HuffPost. Archived from the original on March 10, 2021. Retrieved March 2, 2021.

External links[edit]