Sunday 15 May 2011

Husbands and Wives [1992]

Inspired from Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage, Husbands and Wives is Woody Allen’s bitter yet poignant examination of marriage among middle-aged upper-middle class New York couples. One fine day Sally (Judy Davis) and Jack (Sydney Pollack) reveal to their best friends Judy (Mia Farrow) and Gabe Roth (Woody Allen) that they are splitting up. As they had seemed to be a happy couple, this casual revelation of their’s ends up in throwing the lives of the neurotic and intellectual Roth’s into complete disarray, as beneath the veneer of happiness, their relationship too has turned into one of blasé and unfulfillment. Filled with dark and edgy humour, caustic wit, pointed observations, and poetic irony, this searing critique is a brilliant dissection of the slow disintegration and falling apart of a seemingly happily married couple. Yet, for all the punches and jabs at mid-life crisis, and the foibles, infidelity and misdemeanours that populate marital relationships, the splendid script (along with superb performances and a heady dose of on-camera interviews) surprisingly also ensures that one does a bit of soul-searching as to finding the meaning of happiness – or at least contentment – in a severely lonely, urban milieu. Ironically, at the end, while Sally and Jack decide to get back, Gabe and Judy go their separate ways. Interestingly, the film also saw the public real-life splitting of Woody Allen and Mia Farrow; irrespective of what one of many inimitable cynical one-liners from Woody’s pen states (viz. “Life doesn’t imitate art, it imitates bad television”), life does imitate art, and vice-varsa.

Note: My recent review of the film can be found here.

Director: Woody Allen
Genre: Drama/Comedy/Urban Comedy/Social Satire
Language: English
Country: US


Sam Juliano said...

Beautifully delineated Shubhajit! Yes at the time Allen made this film he was in the throws of a serious Ingmar Bergman obsession, and as you note the film is patterned after SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE. It a solid work, though I probably like it a bit less than you, as this aspect of Allen was always rather derivative for me. It's less personal and more homage. But no matter, there's much to revel in as you've well-established here.

Jon said...

I do enjoy Allen's stabs at drama in the Bergman vein and my favorite is probably Interiors, but this one is well worth watching. I need to go back and see it again.

Shubhajit said...


Thanks a lot for the good words and for sharing your opinions on this film. Well, Allen's love for Bergman was palpable even in Annie Hall, and if I remember correctly, Radio Days, among others. But yes, this one had probably the most in terms of "inspiration", so I understand your reasons for finding it derivative - less personal, and more homage. But strangely, for me, I found it both a great homage and an intensely personal film. I guess its a case of apples and oranges :)

Shubhajit said...


Well, I haven't watched his Interiors yet, but I'll surely do so soon. And yeah, I found it a great movie and in my opinion too it is surely worth watching.