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USA 1995
Directed by
Woody Allen
95 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Mighty Aphrodite

Mighty Aphrodite starts out promisingly with, as usual Allen setting up a central thematic question – our ability or inability to control destiny  - and using classical Greek theatre to frame a typically Allen story of a Manhattan sports writer, Lenny (Allen), and his art gallery-operating wife (Helena Bonham Carter) who adopt a child. As the child grows Lenny begins to wonder about his genetic inheritance and tracks down his birth mother (Mira Sorvino) who turns out to be a porn star. Despite the encouraging opening the classical references rapidly devolve into a running gag and there no need to say anything about cheapness of the porn star idea.  Helena Bonham Carter seems to be acutely uncomfortable in her role, rarely plays to the camera and appears to be avoiding contact with anyone in the film including Allen who, of course, writes in a grope for himself with both her and Sorvino.

Since the post-Hannah and Her Sisters Allen settled into to his one-a-year production line approach to film-making the results have been variable, his biggest vulnerability being the recycling of a limited repertoire of ideas. At his best he can be an amusing story-teller and spinner of peerless witticisms but at his worst he can be glib and superficial, particularly inclined to indulge his sexual frustrations. Mighty Aphrodite is passably entertaining, largely thanks to Mira Sorvino’s Oscar-winning performance as a tip-top trollop and helped out by Michael Rapaport’s nice turn as an onion-farming hick in The Big Apple but it be'ongs at the weaker end of Allen's catalogue.

Available from: Reel DVD




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