Deconstructing Harry, on general release

Woody Allen is Jewish. OK, I know that's hardly "hold the front page" news, but although his movies are littered with Jewish references, he's never before made the subject so central. Instead of the simple caricature of little nerdy Woody with big glasses, we have him genuinely investigating his cultural and religious identity with a terrific sequence with his screen sister, who has married an ultra-Jewish man. The film makes tremendous comic mileage out of the collisions between the people in Harry's life and their fictional images in his books. One of the best sequences features two kvetching elderly Jewish women who all but steal the picture with a tale encompassing a murder, a guilty secret, and why a husband might prefer fish for dinner. All that and Kirsty Alley as his ex-wife driven berserk by Harry's hypocrisy, and Judy Davies on great form as a woman literally doubled-up in deceit. David Benedict