It’s movies like this that make me happy I’m a science fiction writer and not of the “mainstream.” I have never in my life based a character or a story on any of the people or incidents or relationships around me. Woody Allen is Harry, a writer who always takes his material from his life. It gets him into trouble with his friends and relatives, particularly Judy Davis, his ex-lover, who sees their own story in Harry’s new novel. She’s so incensed that she pulls a gun and starts shooting at him. To save his life, Harry has to talk fast.
We see some of his stories come to life, including a fantastic one where an actor goes out of focus. Really! Everyone around him is sharp, and he is blurry, not just through the camera lens but in real life. Later, Harry himself goes out of focus.
Harry is really a pretty nasty character. Almost everyone in his life has a major bone to pick with him, including his newly-orthodox Jewish sister and her husband, and his ex-wife, who believes he is insane. He is supposed to go accept an award at a college upstate, and ends up taking a friend—who dies along the way!—and an outrageous black prostitute (who he asks to tie him up and hit him a little; very kinky for a Woody Allen film), and kidnaps his son.
The movie swings from reality to fantasy in a delightful way, including a side trip to a really, really big set of Hell, where he debates the devil. There could be no happy ending here. Harry is incapable of making real life work, so he retreats again into his writing. As usual, all the acting and all the writing is superb. This is in the upper echelon of Woody’s work.