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Comedian Alvy Singer recently broke up with his girlfriend, Annie Hall, and he still can't wrap his mind around it. What went wrong? Through flashbacks, we learn that Alvy was a fairly morose kid with big questions about existence and a healthy curiosity about the opposite sex. His mother tells us that he was always out of step with the world.
Waiting in line at the movies, Alvy and Annie get stuck in front of a loud, pretentious college professor who disses the work of media theorist Marshall McLuhan. Alvy produces McLuhan himself, who takes the pontificating professor down a peg.
That's a win for anyone who's ever been to grad school. Just sayin'.
That night, when Alvy tries to initiate sex, Annie's not having it. Instead, they discuss Alvy's first marriage. So...the opposite of having sex.
Alvy and Annie start falling in love over lobsters that get loose in the kitchen. They travel back through Annie's dating history, as well as Alvy's second marriage. Turns out Annie's more free-spirited than either of his ex-wives.
...No one's surprised.
Flashback: Alvy and Annie first meet at a tennis club, through Alvy's friend Rob. Alvy joins Annie for a glass of wine at her apartment afterward. That weekend, Alvy goes to hear Annie sing at a nightclub, and afterward they share their first kiss when Alvy stops Annie en route to dinner, insisting they cut the tension and just get it over with.
Welp, that's one way to do it.
At a bookstore, Alvy tells Annie that he has a very pessimistic view of life. (Um...duh?) Then he buys her a bunch of books with "death" in their titles—just to drive the point home. Standing alongside the river, Alvy asks Annie if she loves him. Spoiler alert: she does.
And he loves her, too.
When Alvy and Annie move in together, Alvy wants Annie to keep her old apartment so it doesn't feel like they're married. What a guy. Then, Alvy's frequent encouragement to take some college courses makes Annie fear that he thinks she's not smart enough for him. Meanwhile, Annie's increasing reliance on marijuana in order to be intimate puts further strain on the relationship.
Perfect time for Annie to Alvy home to meet her family, right?
It's not shocking to find out that they're prim, proper, and...nothing like Alvy's family.
Back in New York, Alvy and Annie continue to argue. Annie is still insecure about her smarts, and now Alvy thinks she's having an affair with one of her professors. Their relationship officially cools off, and Rob sets Alvy up with Pam, a music reporter. Of course, that break doesn't last long. Annie calls Alvy in in the middle of the night—and the middle of his date with Pam—to come kill a spider in her apartment, and they get back together...after he lies to her and tells her he was alone when she called.
So much for a healthy new start.
Alvy goes to see Annie sing in another nightclub, and she's a far more confident performer. So much so that she draws the attention of Tony Lacey, a music producer from Los Angeles. So that'd good, but meanwhile, a side-by-side trip to their therapists reveals that Annie and Alvy are still struggling in the bedroom.
Alvy heads to Los Angeles for a TV appearance, and Annie accompanies him. They meet up with Rob, who's starring on a sitcom, and attend a party at Tony's house. Apparently LA didn't rekindle the love, because on the flight home, Alvy and Annie amicably break up.
After Annie moves out, Alvy feels he's made a colossal mistake and seeks advice from random passersby on the street. Apparently that's a good way to handle a breakup? In any case, he gets some feedback: one man tells him that Annie's living with Tony, while another woman tells him to see other people.
His solution? Go to Los Angeles to get Annie back.
Annie meets Alvy for lunch and he asks her to marry him—twice. She declines; she's not in love with him anymore. Frustrated, Alvy returns to New York by way of a holding cell after he crashes his car and tears up his driver's license in a cop's face.
All by his lonesome, Alvy watches rehearsals of a new play he's written that re-imagines the ending of his relationship with Annie. In his version, she loves him and comes back to New York. Art imitating...not real life.
He tells the audience to go easy on him: ironing out life's imperfections is the point of art.
After bumping into one another outside of a movie theater, Alvy and Annie go out to lunch. Will they? Won't they?...
Turns out she's moved back to New York and is living with her new boyfriend. Alvy realizes how lucky he was just to know Annie, and, after lunch, they go their separate ways.