Saturday, February 12, 2011

740. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

Running Time: 103 minutes
Directed By: Woody Allen
Written By: Woody Allen
Main Cast: Mia Farrow, Barbara Hershey, Dianne Wiest, Michael Caine, Woody Allen


Winding down "Woody Allen Week", we come to "Hannah and Her Sisters", a film that didn't "WOW" me years ago when I first saw it, but one that has grown on me with the passing of time.
This go around, we're actually dealing with two plots, that are connected by Hannah and, not only her sisters, but the people close to her. The film starts out during a Thanksgiving party that Hannah and her family are throwing. Over the course of the party we meet Hannah (Farrow), her sisters, Lee (Hershey) and Holly (Wiest) and her husband Elliot (Caine). We find out that Elliot has a crush on Lee, which we find out by the use of voice overs, which take us into the characters' thoughts. Lee is living with and intimate with Frederick (Max Von Sydow), a man who treats her more like a pupil than a lover. Hannah's ex-husband is Mickey (Allen), who upholds a good relationship with her and their two children, which they got by means of artificial insemination, due to Mickey's infertility. We jump back and forth between the two plots, as Elliot pursues an affair with Lee and Mickey visits doctor after doctor, chasing down the origins of a hearing loss, which he's convinced is due to a brain tumor.


The "1001" book describes "Hannah and Her Sisters" as a Bergman-esque film, which I could'nt disagree with more. To me Bergman has a much darker perspective to his movies, while I consider this one to be one of Allen's more upbeat pictures. Anybody who follows Woody Allen knows that he is an atheist, yet in "Hannah and Her Sisters" he (and his character) seem to be questioning the existence of God and I'll be damned if Woody himself doesn't make a case for his existence. I mean, think about it, Woody's character in the film experiences a "near death" situation, only to survive and question his religion and the existence of God and Jesus Christ. Eventually he comes to the conclusion that you only go around once, so you might as well enjoy it while you got the chance. But then the film ends and Woody's character, a previously infertile man, is deemed fertile again, as we learn that his new wife is pregnant. Come on, what more proof do you need Mickey? Maybe, I'm just reading into it too much, as I highly doubt that the underlying message of "Hannah and Her Sisters" is...there is a God, but I'm just saying.

The cast is brilliant, but you really don't need me to tell you that. I especially enjoyed Michael Caine and Barbara Hershey, who was quite the eye candy for me in this movie. The only cast related complaint I'll make is...What was the deal with Sam Waterston? I mean, don't get me wrong, who doesn't love Sam Waterston, but why the hell was he in there? It was almost as if he showed up on set one day and Woody was like "Hey, you wanna' be in the movie" and he was like "Okay, I got a half hour to kill." His character never developed at all and the story with him and April (Carrie Fisher) just kind of disappeared and we never heard from them again. Carrie Fisher's part was kind of useless too, come to think of it, but I digress. My only other complaint, and it's as minor as minor can be, is the musical intros, as we flipped back and forth between plot lines. In a way it worked for me and in a way it just seemed out of place and I could've done without it. Although, speaking of music, this film definitely turned me on to Bach and his Concerto in F Minor: 2nd Movement. What a beautiful piece of music.

RATING: 9/10 Hey it's Woody in his prime, dealing with relationships in the Big Apple...and he's in it...Doesn't get much better than that for this movie watcher.

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February 11, 2011 11:15pm


  1. I'd certainly agtree that this is one that grows on you. Thats despite some fairly unsympathetic characters. I liked the interweaving storys.
    I disagree that it is not Bermanesque. There is all that doubt and questioning God etc.. it's all there I think. OK, perhaps having Max Von Sydow in it leads me to make comparisons...
    Which has made me check and notice no Bergman in your list yet...

  2. Bergman will definitely be a director that gets the royal treatment of a week dedicated to his work.


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