Whatever Works

  • Directors: Woody Allen
  • Producers: Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum
  • Writers: Woody Allen
  • Genres: Comedy, Romance
  • Actors: Larry David, Evan Rachel Wood, Henry Cavill, Patricia Clarkson, Ed Begley Jr, Michael McKean

Boris Yelnikoff (Larry David), an eccentric, misanthropic University of Chicago graduate and chess teacher, rants with his friends about politics and anthropology. He breaks the fourth wall and monologues to the audience explaining his life in recent years: A few years ago, he wakes up in the middle of the night with a panic attack and jumps out the window, but lands on a canopy and survives with only a marked limp. He soon divorces his wife and virtually secludes himself from the world, criticizing everyone he meets for not having his level of intellect.

Years pass and Boris comes home one night to find Melodie, a simple-minded 21-year-old woman, (Evan Rachel Wood) lying on his doorstep. He reluctantly lets her in for a meal and soon she tells him her story that she ran away from her conservative Christian family in Mississippi. As she attempts to get to know him, he retaliates with sarcasm and insults. She asks if she can stay the night, which Boris eventually allows. For some time, and despite his friends’ skepticism, Boris allows Melodie to stay with him until she can find a job and support herself. Boris and Melodie soon go to various landmarks of New York City, and Melodie continues to harbor a primarily optimistic view of things, in contrast to Boris’ pessimism. Melodie develops a crush on Boris based on his mentality and intellectual strength despite their 40 year age difference and their varying cultures and intelligence.

Finally, Boris hosts a New Year’s Eve party, at which everyone is seen in their new relationships: Marietta with Kevin and Morgenstern, John with Howard, Melodie with Randy, and finally Boris with Helena. They all kiss and Boris tells the audience that you just have to find all the enjoyment that you can get out because you have to find “whatever works.”

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