At his best, however, his films are tempered by a genuine warmth and a sense of grace. Take Broadway Danny Rose (1983), for instance, probably my personal favourite of all Woody's movies. Danny Rose is a loser, a no-hoper agent with a tendency to latch onto the least talented of acts, and whose heart is usually too big for his own good.
Broadway Danny Rose is a beautiful parable of grace and reconciliation. Talking with Tina (Mia Farrow) over a coffee, Danny (Woody Allen) philosophizes that guilt is good because it stops people doing devastating things to each other. At this stage, Tina's philosophy is 'take what you can get', and pretty much to hell with other people if they get in your way.
But a transformation occurs. Tina does Danny a wrong, and she loses sleep over it. They've spent only an afternoon together, and yet his words have stirred something in her. Having double-crossed him, her conscience is pricked, and she loses all life and vibrancy. Something has melted her cold exterior, and she cannot rest until she seeks out Danny and for forgiveness and friendship. Reconciliation. (Augustine suddenly comes to mind here: "You have made us for thyself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.")
Even Danny, as big-hearted as he is, finds it too painful to welcome her back at first, but his conscience is awakened, too, and it is time to put his words about forgiveness into action. The movie ends with a warm reconciliation as Tina - having lost her street-smart, worldly-wise veneer - is invited back to Danny's shabby apartment to share a plate of frozen Thanksgiving turkey.
I wonder: Is judgment part of the beauty of reconciliation? Is the pain of being searched and found guilty all part of the wonder of grace, forgiveness and the restoration of friendship with God and with each other? Guilt is, as Danny recognized, a blessing that deters us from hurting each other or, in Tina's case, that provokes us into seeking reconciliation.
Paul says an interesting thing: You have been reconciled to God in Christ - therefore be reconciled (2 Corinthians 5:19). It's a paradox: God has already reconciled us, and yet reconciliation is a future event that requires our response. That response is not the futile effort of arbitrary religious acts, but the simple acceptance of God's offer of friendship. And it is judgment - the painful awareness of having been examined and found guilty - that moves us towards reconciliation.
God has removed every obstacle, loudly proclaiming in Christ that he does not hold any of our wrongs against us, declaring us totally forgiven. Will we wallow in shame or turn around and take his hand?