Celebrity was the last of four films shot by Nykvist for Allen. It also marks the end of Allen's long collaboration with editor Susan E. Morse , who had edited the previous twenty of Allen's films beginning with Manhattan And even with Branagh as his younger alter ego, Allen finds no way to revitalize the character's predictable worries about advancing his career and chasing beautiful women. Though Celebrity is filled with beautiful and famous faces, it has plenty of opportunity to bog down between star turns, and some of the episodes about the Simons are astonishingly flat.
Some of the moments are very funny. More are only smile material, and a few don't work at all. Like all of Allen's films, it's smart and quirky enough that we're not bored, but we're not much delighted, either. Branagh has all the Allen vocal mannerisms and the body language of comic uncertainty. He does Allen so carefully, indeed, that you wonder why Allen didn't just play the character himself. At sixty-two, the Woodman can still mine caustic laughter from the darkest corners of his psyche.
In Celebrity, he cracks his ringmaster's whip on a circus of rude, cathartic fun. Branagh, whether by his choice or his director's, plays Lee like a Woody impressionist, down to the nervous gestures and the stuttering whine. Lee should emerge as flawed but real in a world of gorgeous poseurs.
Instead, Branagh's party-trick performance keeps audiences at a distance. What saves the day is the steady march of scintillating cameos from actors who bring out the best in Allen's barbed dialogue.
His novelty act belongs in the same bin with his hammy histrionics in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The irony of Celebrity is that so much of it is admirably acted, written and directed. Despite his one-note obsessions, Allen is a fine director whose stories clip along, whose dialogue sparkles and whose actors look grateful for the luxury of his words. Branagh is simply embarrassing as he flails, stammers and gesticulates in a manner that suggests a direct imitation of Allen himself.
For her part, Davis was brilliant in Husbands and Wives and has appeared effectively in other Allen films, but she not only overdoes the neurotic posturing this time but is essentially miscast. Annoyingly mannered in performance as well as tiresomely familiar in the way it trots out its angst-ridden urban characters' problems, [the picture] has a hastily conceived, patchwork feel that is occasionally leavened by some lively supporting turns and the presence of so many attractive people onscreen.
Judy Davis's doorstepping television interviews in the Jean-Georges restaurant where she encounters several well-heeled New Yorkers, including Donald Trump who is planning to buy St Patrick's Cathedral and knock it down are frankly risible; a rehearsal scene in the Ziegfeld Theatre where [Winona Ryder]is being coached in the art of seducing a woman gasp! Fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi 's turn as a lionised New York artist complaining at his opening at the Serge Sorokko Gallery in SoHo that fame will ruin him, is simply banal.
Even the opening shot, of a film crew on the streets attempting to catch a reaction shot of Melanie Griffith' walking from a limo, is peopled with a veteran film-maker's notion of what young hip film-makers are like shavenheaded, natch rather than an identifiable reality. She added, "[I]n every minute of DiCaprio's participation