Hannah and Her Sisters – 1986 Allen
- Amongst other triumphs of the film, which is a masterpiece, it’s enchanting to watch Allen’s camera float around the opening and closing thanksgiving as he eavesdrops on conversations and digs into these 5 fascinating characters (Allen, Caine, Hershey, Farrow and Wiest).
- These characters and settings are very lived in and natural—for Farrow, the film’s title character and centerpiece (we have her two sisters, her ex-husband and current husband as the leads) we have her actual apartment, her mother and children are actually used and she, of course, is very similar to this successful actress character
- IMDB facts—according to USA Today when the film was released there was a movement to get Woody’s script nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. It’s simply one of the better screenplays written
- Part of the film’s structure is taken from Bergman’s fanny and alexander. Fanny and Alexander centers around the holidays with a sprawling family over three years
- Ebert on it “Hannah and Her Sisters” is the best movie he has ever made
- Such formal brilliance- each section starts with a title or quotation from the scene to follow. It’s simple white against plate just like Allen’s trademark opening credit titles. It makes the movie feel like a pointed movement through the world of this family and the individual players
- We start with Caine’s voice over but we go to Allen’s later and have inner monologue sequences from Hershey, Wiest and they even do one for Farrow introduced almost 50 minutes in
- The cast has talent oozing out everywhere- outside of the principle five we have Carrie Fisher, Sam Waterston, Daniel Stern, and a magnificent Max Von Sydow. And these other ones aren’t cameos but bit players as they work their way into Hollywood- we have Richard Jenkins, Julia Louise-Dreyfus, John Turturro and JT Walsh—the last 3 come within 15 second of each other and 15 years later they could probably carry a movie on their own.
- The montages are memorable- never a throwaway. We have hilarious ones like Woody getting checked by doctors for cancer and of course the religion ones at the end- (the Wonderbread catholic one is hilarious) but we also have the beautiful NYC building architecture tour by Waterston
- It’s a tribute to Michael Caine that his character doesn’t come off as more of a douche bag or “despicable” as he says in the movie. He’s awkward in his fawning over Hershey’s character and with his self-hatred and doubt (kudos for allen as well for a very well written character) his acts are both plausible and though not forgivable, not one that invokes hatred in the viewer either
- Formal brilliance with the dueling musical themes for Woody and Caine’s character
- Three flashback sequences—the flashback of Woody’s asking his ex-partner Tony Roberts for “sperm”, taking out Wiest on a date and then the genius Marx brothers life’s purpose moment
- A triumph in screen writing for women and acting by the three female leads. One of my favorite scenes is the one pictured above with the 3 women at lunch- it’s a devastating 360 degree shot with such rich subtext- we also have reoccurring singing for women in his movies started by Keaton in Annie Hall– here both Wiest and Fisher get a shot
- Very deserving Oscars for Caine, Wiest and Allen’s screenplay
- A Masterpiece