Let’s dispense with the novelty quotient first. In Woody Allen’s Everyone Says I Love You, nearly everyone sings for their paycheck. Drew Barrymore, Julia Roberts, Goldie Hawn, Tim Roth, Alan Alda, Edward Norton, Woody himself — they all interrupt the action to break into popular songs and ballads from the ’30s and ’40s. The actors use their own voices (okay, except Barrymore, who was dubbed); sometimes they dance, too, or are surrounded by passing characters engaged in flights of fancy choreography. But aside from the dismaying experience of listening to the cellophane-thin voices of Roberts faltering through ”All My Life,” or Allen attempting ”I’m Thru With Love” like a man on a respirator, there is nothing shocking or even noteworthy in this experiment. The late Dennis Potter used song and dance far more boldly and brilliantly as a reflection of inner emotional landscape in the BBC’s ”Pennies From Heaven” and ”The Singing Detective,” where the characters lipsynched to original period recordings.

Take away the tunes and the footwork, then, and what you have is this: melancholia disguised as a romantic fantasia, with the filmmaker’s nose once again pressed up against the window of an idealized, classy (i.e., vaguely WASPy or at least de-ethnicized) family. This time the filmmaker plays Joe, an artistic type divorced from his wife (Hawn), living in affluence in Paris, and intent on impressing a young woman (Roberts) he meets in Venice. Joe is the father of DJ (Natasha Lyonne), who lives with her mother and stepfather (Alda) in affluence on Manhattan’s Upper East Side along with various full and half siblings. Life is a New Yorker magazine dream: perfect homes, delicious flirtations, and loving relationships among the entire blended family, more privileged a group it would be hard to find outside an Edith Wharton novel (and you know how unhappy those New Yorkers really were).

Styled as a romantic confection, Everyone Says I Love You is, in fact, steeped in an unacknowledged middle-aged sadness that leaks from the writer-director and saps the energies of his cast. (Roth, as a crudely virile ex-con, and Hawn, in full career reascendancy, are two of the few who defy the pall.) Missing the glow of grounded happiness that lit up ”Hannah and Her Sisters” — Allen’s most mature family fantasy — this celebration of love and good fortune doesn’t feel very festive at all. B-

Everyone Says I Love You
  • Movie
  • 101 minutes