Thursday 2 April 2015

Hannah and Her Sisters [1986]

Eight years after he made the bleak and discomfiting Interiors, Woody returned to the exploration of the divergent arcs taken by the lives of three sisters with the delectable and bittersweet Manhattan mosaic Hannah and Her Sisters. Made in the vein of a novel, the film exquisitely delineated the underlying anxieties, regrets, failures and foibles of an otherwise close-knit set of sisters. Bound on either side by the family’s annual Thanksgiving tradition which served as both a terrific introduction and a warm parting note for the ensemble cast, the episodic middle-section chronicled over a period of 2 years the lives of Hannah (Mia Farrow), the serene eldest sister who has given up a successful career on stage post her marriage to Elliot (Michael Caine), an art-loving banker who has become bored with his staid marriage and intensely infatuated with Hannah’s ravishing younger sister Lee (Barbara Hershey), who is in a relationship with Frederick (Max von Sydow), a misanthropic and reclusive painter; Holly (Dianne West), the neurotic 3rd sister, is a struggling actress who’s always in financial crisis and hankering for male companionship, and had once dated Mickey (Allen), a hypochondriac TV producer searching in futility for life’s meaning and Hannah’s ex-husband; the ensemble was capped by the loving yet bickering parents of the sisters (Lloyd Nolan and Maureen O’Sulivan). Woody made fabulous use of this broad canvas, interweaving narrative structure and the motley beautifully etched and enacted characters, for his alternately light-hearted and pointed, but always witty, funny, intelligent and affecting, observations on love, marriage, infidelity, family, religion, and existential crisis, and in turn a memorable ode to the myriad shades of his sweetheart, New York.

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

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

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