16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Here we have a classic Woody script, fuelled by mid-life angst and fraught affections. It follows the relationship woes, conflicts and rivalries of three sisters. Into their lives comes Michael Caine, Woody Allen, and Max Von Sydow, and so the plot revolves around the interaction of these six characters, as they each contemplate their lot in life. Of the three men, we focus mainly on Woody, who frets about the meaning of his life, we focus a little on Michael, and not at all on Max - possibly the most interesting of them because of his odd approach to society. It is one of my favourite movies. I must have watched it 40 times. It has subtlety and style, and the script has pace even when it deals with the issues of small lives. In the middle we also get a snippet of E E Cummings' poem "Somewhere I Have Never Travelled".
For some reason, Woody's movies never get the full DVD treatment, and here we receive no narratives, documentaries or interviews. The DVD menu is bland and cheaply done. We are not even offered Dolby sound, though I concede that the movie was originally recorded in mono. What we do get is the movie, dubbed in five languages (English, German, French, Spanish and Italian) and theatrical trailer.
Woody is an important figure in cinema but not huge box-office. That may explain why MGM lavishes so little attention on the DVDs of his work.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A wonderful mix of moving and funny, thought provoking and silly. There's amazing acting all around from the first rate ensemble cast including Diane Wiest, Michael Caine (both of whom deservedly won Oscars), Max Von Sydow, Allen, Mia Farrow, Barbara Hershey etc.
(Mild spoiler) It features a rare movie happy ending that's actually earned!
This is probably the closest to Annie Hall of all Woody Allen films in the mix of wit, technical proficiency, sophisticated style, acting, emotion, etc. He takes a bevy of characters and creates a complex heartfelt portrait of family, lovers, friends, and artists that's funny but with insightful bite. A rare film that acknowledges how wonderful life is, without denying how hard it can be at the same time. Or at least how hard we find ways to make it.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
To my mind, only 'Annie Hall' has the beating of this excellent piece of drama. Mia Farrow, Dianne Wiest and Barbara Hershey are all wonderful as the three sisters and Woody himself is typically neurotic in his role as a hypochondriac comic writer. However, the best performance is from Michael Caine as the guilt-ridden husband who loves his wife (Farrow) but is infatuated with her beautiful and passionate sister (Hershey). Max von Sydow nearly steals the scene as Hershey's tempestuous artist lover and watch out for Carrie Fisher in a subsidary role. This is a beautiful film that is honest and yet uplifting in one motion, an absolute triumph in observational drama. If you're an Allen fan and do not yet own this film...well, what are you waiting for ? Buy it !
Woody Allen's 1986 film Hannah and Her Sisters is, for me, very much a mixed bag. I was tempted to rate it as three star only, but, on the strength of the performances from Dianne Wiest, Barbara Hershey and, predictably I guess, Allen himself, it just edges into four star territory.
The film provides another example of Allen's take on life, as mixed between tragedy and comedy - albeit without a clear demarcation in all cases. But, for me, Allen achieves this mix much more effectively in one of his film classics, Crimes and Misdemeanours, than he does here.
As has become Allen's trademark, there are a number of narrative threads running through the film. Actress Hannah (solidly played by Mia Farrow) and her two sisters, Lee (Barbara Hershey, in easily her best film role for me) and Holly (played by the much underrated Dianne Wiest) provide the central storylines. Hannah's husband Elliot (Michael Caine) becomes obsessed by Lee, who herself is suffering marriage ructions with her artist husband Frederick (played with admirable gravity by Max von Sydow), and the two embark on a passionate affair. Meantime, (ex-)drug addict Holly is struggling to find her path in life, rapidly moving between the various men in her life and numerous career paths, much to the dismay of sister Hannah. The other main storyline features Hannah's ex-husband, TV producer Mickey Sachs (played by Allen), who is also beginning to despair at life and obsessing that he has a terminal medical condition. Following some hilarious diagnosis scenes with various doctors, Mickey is given the all clear, at which point he decides he needs to find the true meaning of life, by means of religious conversion to catholicism (or maybe even Hare Krishna), much to the disgust of his Jewish parents.
For me, the film is at its best when focusing on Allen's Mickey character and on the superb performance by Dianne Wiest as Holly, a performance for which she deservedly won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. It is much less successful when featuring the Lee/Elliot relationship. The reason for this is that, for me, Michael Caine is hopelessly miscast, and just not convincing, as Elliot and certainly not deserving of winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar as he did. On the other hand, both Hershey and (to a slightly lesser extent) Mia Farrow are both very good in their playing opposite Caine.
Other notable performances are provided by Julie Kavner (as Mickey's co-worker Gail), Carrie Fisher (as April, Holly's best friend, though competitor in love) and Maureen O'Sullivan (Mia Farrow's real life mother) and Lloyd Nolan as Hannah's mother and father, Norma and Evan (respectively). Also watch out for John Turturro in a cameo role in one of his very early film appearances.
The film also has a typically high quality soundtrack mixing jazz (Cole Porter, Dick Hyman, Count Basie, Dave Brubeck) and classical (JS Bach, Puccini). Also, at the end of the film, it is notable that Mickey's faith in life is restored following his cinema visit to see The Marx Brothers film Duck Soup. The film actually ends on a positive note as Elliot is reconciled with Hannah, and Mickey and (previous girlfriend, now wife) Holly announce that Holly is pregnant.
Not my top ranking Woody Allen film, but a must see film nevertheless.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This is one of Woody Allen's most profoundly touching films, dating from the mid-eighties run of releases that were fully-integrated dramas rather than the more comic-sketch style of his earlier work. It feels a bit like a very comfortable brown leather chair that fits your shape and that allows you a more upholstered view of the world for the time you are in it. Not that Allen had abandoned his comic style; it is very much in evidence, but the context has more depth. All the performances are brilliant, starting with the three sisters - presumably based on Chekhov - and it is amazing how he writes the undercurrents in their relationships so seamlessly into the script. The lunch date with the three of them shows this. The friction between the Dianne Wiest character and Mia Farrow is conveyed so subtly and, in a way, quite painfully, yet it is contained within the broader comic framework of the film. Michael Caine has amazing comic timing, and his character's temptation to go astray forms the central plot strand. The way this is handled and resolved is very satisfying and you feel you have walked around the hidden recesses of the heart - and Manhattan - by the time the credits roll, but with a gentle, conciliatory spirit guiding you through, for all the hilarity along the way.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 14 January 2003
This has to be, undoubtedly, one of Woody Allen's masterpieces. One of the films in which he begins to break away from his usual style, Allen focuses both on his typical neurotic, quavering character and also on the lives of three sisters, one of which he was previously married to. The insight into their tangled and deceitful lives, the lies and games played around each other and, at the same time, their deep love, are shown both humourously and with incredible sensitivity. The film is beautifully shot and flits quickly from one instance to the next, weaving together a potentially bland story and making it a cinematic joy.
Allen plays Mickey Sachs, a troubled television producer struggling with the question of the meaning of life. A series of experiences lead him to try and find his 'higher truth,' in the same inimitable and hilarious style portrayed in so many of Allen's films. Artistic and philosophical anecdotes and queries are applied relevantly and humourously, making the viewer laugh as well as ponder.
Mickey's ex-wife Hannah is played brilliantly by Mia Farrow, and the cast is completed by a host of other great names including Michael Caine, Barbara Hershey, Dianne Wiest, Carrie Fisher and, one of Allen's favourites, Julie Kavner. The film focuses intently on the theme of reality: the lives of three ordinary sisters, the ones they love, and the lengths taken to keep the peace and help each other: but not without a few mishaps on the way. The integration of Allen's character and the sisters is brought together at the end in a way the viewer could never expect.
With a musical score including music by McCarthy-Monaco and Cahn-Styne, and references to artists and poets such as E.E Cummings cleverly applied, 'Hannah and her Sisters' really is Woody at his best.
This film is definitely one of Woody's best and the equal to `Annie Hall,' IMHO.
An excellent storyline and script I have to say, with some really classic scenes. I especially liked Woody's initial date with Hannah's sister, of course, the more humorous parts of the film usually occur when Woody is around! The acting from all of the `sisters' is brilliant; I also loved the Mum & Dad too! I still have the classic, `Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,' floating around in my head! There are stunning views of the New York architecture to admire.
My only gripe was that I found the dialogue hard to pick up at times, especially early on in the film. Other than that, a great watch and thoroughly enjoyable.
For those looking for a DVD with all the trimmings, this will disappoint in all sorts of ways because it is as basic as DVDs come. The redeeming features is, of course, the film itself. Like many of Allen's films, this did not have great box-office success, despite the good list of actors.
The story of three sisters and three men who enter their lives, Michael Caine, Woody Allen, and Max Von Sydow, it has all the typical Allen themes, tensions, mid-life crisis or two, fraught relationships, miscommunication and so on. And, of course, New York. If readers need more plot information, please check the product details.
One of his best films, it deserved better treatment than this but at least we have the film.
on 10 April 2015
Annie Hall is funnier, Manhattan is better made but this is i think Woody Allens greatest movie.Set over the course of two Thanksgivings it follows the lives of a bunch of New Yorkers all married or related to one another.Woody is his usual neurotic self,Michael Caine is married to Woodys ex played by Mia Farrow but he is in love with her sister played by Barbara Hershey who lives with Max von Sydow while Woody goes on a disastrous date with his sister in law played by Dianne Wiest. Somehow everything works out right in the end for all concerned and we the audience feel the better for it . This is a heart warming comedy drama with Caine and Wiest taking the Oscars and Woody taking one for his screenplay.
on 3 December 2014
One of the best Woody Allen films. Great to see Michael Caine in this, he won his first Oscar (of two) for this role.
A large family with an acting tradition gets together over thanksgiving and we look at their lives and loves. Then the story moves forward to the next year’s thanksgiving to see how things play out. The three sisters are well played by Mia Farrow, Diane Wiest and Barbara Hershey.
This film has a more feel good quality to it than some other WA films, not that it makes the film better or worse, just making an observation.