Character Analysis Of Annie Hall Movie Film Studies Essay

Overview of the movie Annie Hall is a classic romantic comedy in American which explores the nature of sexual relationships. The movie is focus on the relationship between two main characters –Alvy Singer and Annie Hall. They had gone thought happiness and tears over years. However, due to their different personality and view of life, they finally break-up and lived their own lives with other partners “They live, they love, and they screw up”.

About Alvy

Alvy has described his life as “unhappiness, suffering and full of loneliness” at the beginning of the movie, and he was obsessed with deaths. Seemly, he was pessimistic. He only saw the worst side of people and all the things are negative in his eye, this feature point out his hostile characteristic. He cannot trust people and develop judgments based on his own perception and value.

When Alvy was young, his living environment was detrimental. For example, when he was nine, he read a book talking about the universe is expanding and will one day explode; he was criticized as a child of acing on early sexual impulses of kissing a female classmate; he suffered from shadow of being a Jewish and narcissist. These experiences had affected the development of his personalities of becoming pessimistic, self-loathing and inner anxiety.

Alvy belongs to “Neuroticism”, according to the Big Five model of personality types developed by Costa & McCrae. He shows depression, hostility, anxiety, and impulsiveness. His emotional is always changing over the time and unstable.

About Annie

In direct contrast, Annie is an aspiring singer from the Midwest, with a flighty personality, insecure streak, eclectic wardrobe, who uses words like “la-dee-da,” “Grammy,” and “neat.” she provides much of the “positive attitude” in contrast with Alvy’s negative.

Relationship between Alvy and Annie

Before Annie, Alvy had two failed marriages. The story had no provided clear explanation of why he failed these two relationships, but we can still make a guess based on the story plot. It might because of Alvy’s Neuroticism characteristic and different expectations on each other.

Alvy and Annie were sweet and passionate at the beginning of theirs relationship. They had sex frequently that could “possibly get a Guinness record”, which is a joke from Alvy. However, time made it different now. They gradually had sexual problem leading Alvy thought that Annie did not make love with him wholeheartedly, however, Annie insisted that “there was just a proceeding to another stage of their relationship”.

Other than their sexual problem, Alvy and Annie were holding very different views towards lives. Annie thought Alvy did not try to understand her and was too self-central. For instance, when Annie had a bad mood due to overslept, Alvy just thought that she was angry since she was in a period. Annie said he was too selfish to improve himself depend on her, since Alvy of thought she was not smart enough and lack of education. Moreover, Alvy did not like marriage and commitment, which made Annie mad and reconsider about their relationship, “Did Alvy really love her?” But, we can understand that Alvy express his love in own special ways.

Their difference had caused their relationship become problematic.

Application of Psychological Theories for Relationship

Love, always is the abstract feeling and complex emotion of human beings. Therefore, psychologists tried to develop some scientific approaches to let people know more about it.

In the following paragraph, I would to use three psychological theories to analyze the relationship between Alvy and Annie. There are the 1) Love triangle theory, 2) Attachment theory, and 3) Love style theory.


“Love Triangle Theory” and its Application

The theory was developed by Robert Sternberg, and which suggests that a relationship develops by three components and “A perfect love should be consisted of all of them.” The three components are 1) passion, 2) commitment, and 3) intimacy.


Passion is a very strong subjective feeling that about a persons. It is an intense emotion pressing feeling, enthusiasm, and the desire for something. Passion including the emotion those lead to romance, physical attraction, and sexual consummation. Usually in a relationship, the passion is very strong at the beginning. This explains why some couples have sex more frequently at beginning but then decline by time. Passion might fade out if the relationship is not maintained well.

In the movie, we can see Alvy showed his passion thought had sex with all his partners among all three relationships. Because they were sexually and physically attractive to each other. Looking at the relationship with Annie, Alvy said that they had frequently sex at the early stage of the relationship but then decrease and created sexual problem. This is the normal phenomenon told by this theory that “passion is usually stronger at the beginning and then become weaker over times”. This is what we saw on their sexual problem, and “a proceeding to another stage of their relationship” said by Annie.


Commitment is a promise, the intention that how much people want to stay in the relationship. In the short term, it refers the decision to remain with another; and in the long term, the shared plans and achievements made with that other. For example, a man loves his girlfriend seriously and wants to live with her for the rest of life. He could make the long term commitment to marry her.

Before Annie, Alvy had marriages twice. Getting marriage is considered as a kind of long term commitment. Although the marriages Alvy had were failed, we can know that Alvy is kind of person who willing to make promise, at least to his personal level.

Annie thought that Alvy did not like marriages and making long term commitment with her. This might because of their expectations is different with each other. To Alvy, he had already had two unsuccessful marriages, and he may not want to get into marriage and being hurt again. Alvy was messed up when Annie tried to move into his apartment, and he did not agree that having a relationship meaning to living together. His view toward love was very different with Annie’s, and which to her living together indeed commitment is.

However, we can still see the intention of Alvy that how much he wanted to be with Annie. He let Annie to live with him when their relationship just started. He displayed a short term commitment that “wanted to remain Annie” by letting her in. But he failed to make long term commitment with Annie and which about consider the future of their relationship. For example, Alvy flew to California and tried to gain Annie back to stay with him in New York, but that was not viewed as long term commitment or expression of love to Annie, because Alvy did not making any promise for their future plans like marriage with Annie.


This is constructed by two elements, 1) the overlapping self-concept and 2) interdependence behavior in the relationship.

Self-concepts: This is about how people perceive who they are. Those may include dreams, goals and aspirations in life. In explain the Overlapping self-concept, there is about “when two people come together and find their common grounds”, and willing to share their similar lives.

Interdependence behavior: These are interdependent relation to overlapping self-concept. In a relationship, people expect they can depend on their partner to attain certain targets together. This is the process that request give-and-take action in order to achieve common goal. They are the relation expect their future lives are rely on their partner, and trust and understanding is important.

In the movie, Alvy failed to display intimacy for his love. Alvy and Annie had different view and expectations toward their own and lives. They both have their self-concept and did not overlapping with each other. For example, Annie loved California and wanted to live there, but Alvy hate there and insisted that he only wanted to stay in New York. Since Alvy is self-central, he unwilling to give way to Annie and try to solve the conflict between them, this restricted Annie willingness to stay with Alvy because she could not find a common ground with him.

Without overlapping self-concepts in their relationship, it is difficult to perform interdependence behaviors because they did not try to perform give-and- take action and fully trust on each other. Eventually, this is explained that Alvy and Annie are unable to depend on each other and live together for life long.

Hence, Alvy showed his intention to stay with Annie and remain her. But he did not involved serious thinking about their future. When Annie thought there was no long term commitment and no intimacy in their relationship, their love is just take court of Infatuated Love. They are just physically and sexually attractive to each other but did not overlapping self concept with their partner. Imperfect relationship made their passion gradually faded out over time; eventually their love had gone reasonably.

“Attachment Theory” and its Application

“Attachment style is likely to exert a very pervasive influence on the individuals’ relationship with others, because it reflects general views about the rewards and dangers of interpersonal relationships.”

There are four types of attachment styles, and divided into secure and the insecure type. In this movie, we discover insecure type of Fearful-avoidant attachment appears on Alvy.

Fearful-avoidant attachment (Low self-esteem, Interpersonal Mistrust)

Fearful-avoidant people view negatively to themselves and also the partners. They are afraid of getting close with others in order to avoid rejection or being hurt. The reasons behind is because they unwilling trust others or to depend on them. They are often hostile and don’t realize when they are getting angry. Also, they tend to have problems getting along with others, are often jealous, and tend to use alcohol to reduce anxiety in social situations.

According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology written by Patricia Noller and Judith Feeney, they mentioned that “Avoidant attachment holders had a comparatively less satisfying and intimate relationship”. This was what we saw on Alvy.

As we know that Alvy did not trust and rely on others. He was self-loafing characteristic and always tried to keep distant from others. Obliviously, Alvy belong to fearful-avoidant attachment style. They are kind of people that fear of being hurt, since Alvy had failed in marriages twice, he avoided getting too close with people, but desired a close intimate relationship at the same time

Therefore, Alvy displayed sort of distance from Annie when he with her. He argued about Annie movie into his apartment, and claiming that having a relationship not meaning to live together. On the other side, he desired to get closer with her. He asked Annie to take some adult education courses in University for improve herself. While Annie went out to have a meeting with the University professor, Alvy distrust Annie and spied her. Because of he was hostile and thought there were affair between Annie and the professor. Alvy viewed all things negatively, and unwilling to trust people, including the one he love. This Fearful-avoidant attachment character on Alvy had affected his relationship with others and also unable to develop “true love relationship” with Annie. Compare with other attachment holders, they might experience less the “Candy of love” because they avoided intimacy with others, and did not trust with wholehearted.

“Love Styles” and its Application

This style was developed by John Lee and which suggests that there are six love style displayed by human beings. The six love styles are: Ludus, Storge, Eros, Pagma, Mania, and Agape. Each love style is developed by people’s personalities and leads to various acts in the relationship. Ludus and Storge are the love styles that we saw on Alvy.


Ludus is a game of playing love. They strive to fulfill their needs of Entertainment and Excitement in love. They are enjoying to having sexual excitements with different partners. For them, love is not to be taken too seriously and emotions should be kept in check .Researchers have found that ludic lovers are linked to sexual aggression.

Psychologists pointed out that “Avoidant attachment holder would more likely perform Ludus love style.” Seemly, we can see Alvy perform in this way. He met and also had sex with different women after broke- up with Annie. Alvy might just fulfill the sexual excitement with those unfamiliar women, and even did not consider there are love existed between them, because his heart still belonged to Annie. When Annie called him, he decided to cheat to her that he saying he was alone and rush to Annie immediately by left his “temporary” partner on the bed.


Storge love lacks passion and intensity. This style of love usually begins relationship out of friendship, which eventually develops into feelings of romantic love and intimacy. They are still able to be friends after separated. Sex is viewing as bonus to them, but not the usual way to express their love. For them, commitment is the bonding that linking them together, thus, it is more important.

Viewing the Alvy and Annie’s relationship, they had the Storge love style. They felt interested in each other after they first met in tennis court. They build their relationship from friend to lover, “They talked, dated and finally fell in love.”Although their relationship becomes problematic, they were still important to each other. For example, one night that Annie found two spiders in her bathroom, Alvy ran to her in the early morning and help her kill that two big spiders, even they were broke-up already at that moment. To Alvy, Annie always was the special one that made him changes, although that he was still self-central.


The “Neuroticism” personality and Fearful-avoidant attachment style of Alvy was the main factor leading to the breakage of the relationship. Alvy brought his own value into the relationship, making all things negative. Also, he did not trust and kept distant from others and self-central. All these behaviors caused Annie could not stand him anymore and leading their relationship to disappointed result. Alvy was not able to develop commitment and intimacy with his partners and taste the Candy of perfect love eventually.

Although Alvy and Annie broke-up finally, they were still building a relationship in term of friend. From the movie, we can understand that Alvy love Annie very much and wanted to gain her back. He wrote a play at the end of the movie, with the same conversation that they had in California, but different ending with Alvy successfully gaining Annie back. Alvy was hoping that one day Annie would understand his love.

In my opinion, the movie was quite sad because it was not with a happy ending. However, it did a good job in deliver message about the self reflection in love and that “We should treasure the love you got!”

(Word Count: 2652)

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