January 8, 2012

Then again, I heart Diane Keaton...

I have been listening to Diane Keaton read her autobiography Then Again on CD as I drive, and I gotta say, that even with my pretty high expectations, she blew me away.

Much as I love the typical Loni Anderson-esque superficial Hollywood bio, this isn't one of them.

For the curious like me, yes, Ms. Keaton dishes on her relationships, with Al Pacino ("Sometimes I swear Al must have been raised by wolves"), Warren Beatty ("when Warren chose to shine his light on you, there was no going back."), and especially Woody Allen (“He would cringe if he knew how much I care about him”).

Then Again is so much more than a Hollywood tale. Structurally, Keaton shares her biography with the journals of her late mother, a 1950s housewife with unfulfilled artistic ambitions and bouts of depression. Like all biographies, she talks about growing up and learning about life, the difference here is that she has actually learned stuff, and tells the story with charm and humour. And having her read the audio, clearly enjoy it, and get emotional at the sad parts, is breathtaking.

Famous since her Oscar-winning role as Annie Hall, Keaton has since moved into artsy projects such as books about architecture and photography, and directing a documentary on heaven. She is living the “age thing” (she’s 65) that female stars face, with minimum humiliation. She writes honestly about fame, bulimia, family, love, loneliness, fear of intimacy, sexism, and self-esteem. And she’s self-sufficient, saying in Then Again, “I never found a home in the arms of a man.”

The message of Annie Hall is: Love fades. Keaton gushes over Allen for making Annie Hall a funny movie with a sad ending. That same funny/sad tone is in this memoir, which is smart and quirky and rambling and awkward, along with charming and sweet and sad and soulful. And on audio it seemed almost too personal at times. Take the time to read it. Or listen to Keaton herself read it to you, as I did...


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