In this moody, Kafkaesque half comedy, Woody Allen plays, yet again, a nervous loser, this time one who’s part of ”the Plan” to catch a strangler in an unnamed city. Mia Farrow, once again, is the innocent he befriends — a disenchanted circus sword swallower obsessed with having a baby. And for the nth time it’s time to play Spot the Star in the Woody Movie, as well-known faces (Madonna, Jodie Foster, Kathy Bates, Lily Tomlin) show up in throwaway roles. Add pretentious camera work that kidnaps the viewer from both character and narrative and you have the prototypical Allen vanity production.
There are a few wonderful moments, though — especially a wildly brilliant bit by Julie Kavner as the hilariously vengeful girl Allen left at the altar. And the movie loses little in visual quality in the transfer to video. But gorgeous as Shadows and Fog is — stunningly shot in black and white, with imposing sets beautifully recalling German expressionist film — it goes nowhere. The title truly tells all. C+