Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hannah and Her Sisters

"Hannah and Her Sisters" could be as good a film as, say, "Husbands and Wives" (the film it so frequently parallels), but instead it divulges into extremely random and painstakingly predictable sentimentality not usually found in Woody Allen's films. Like "Crimes and Misdemeanors," the film has two threads: one a more serious story involving love and the other focused around Mr. Allen himself and his neurotic attributes. The problem is here that, as the director, Allen feels the need to tie the stories together too closely and ends up with a final scene that's unnecessary since you can see it coming from a mile away. Another problem is the mediocre and heavily cheesy performance by Michael Caine that ruins the romantic aspects of the film, even though the actor possesses a seductive British accent. He goes through the whole cliche "hiding an affair" schtick that we've all seen again and again throughout cinema. Also, Mia Farrow's work is not put to the right use. In "Wives," her breakdown after her best friends break up is realistic and shocking. In this film, she grabs the wrong aspects of her personality, i.e. the annoying ones, and blends them together lukewarmly. As does Dianne Wiest, who, although better than in "Bullets Over Broadway," again fails to fill an ominous void (the plot), which is not quite as big as with "BOB." There are a few honorable bits and pieces strung together here. Allen, except in the unrealistically portrayed last scene, is very funny, as he contemplates the meanings of life, death, committing suicide, and religion. Max Von Sydow is an enigma here, as he plays a fascinating painter who's the partner of Barbara Hershey. His scene with the equally good Daniel Stern is hilarious and satirical. If only the rest of the movie could have been like that. I believe the whole enterprise here is heavily overrated because it sometimes captures the meaning of love. While I think the film has some good moments, the whole movie is hard to put together and Allen can't quite get it done. B-

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