Sudden Manhattan

on March 07, 1997 by Dale Winogura
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   The sweetly dippy and bonkers "Sudden Manhattan" details the descent of a lonely young New Yorker (writer/director Adrienne Shelly) into existential madness with offbeat humor and gentle strangeness. Although the influences of Hal Hartley, Woody Allen, Roman Polanski and David Lynch are obvious, Shelly's daffy comic fantasia has its own unique voice and rhythm, at once bizarre and playful.
   The vulnerable yet sturdy quality of Shelly's performance makes many of her wacko narrative ideas work and her character appealing. Even the eccentric neurotics in her character's orbit are pleasantly nuts, mainly her impotent boyfriend (an amusing Tim Guinec), who likes to ready Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy aloud in bed, and a wayout fortune teller played with irresistible zeal by Louise Lasser.
   The polished style and breezy pace of Shelly's promising debut prevent any arty pretensions from seeping in, and so does her delightfully unaffected narration. "Sudden Manhattan" is a weird yet oddly endearing surreal adventure. Starring Adrienne Shelly, Louise Lasser and Tim Guinec. Directed and written by Adrienne Shelly. Produced by Marcia Kirkley. A Phaedra release. Comedy. Unrated. Running time: 80 min
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