My final Woody Allen film for me to review on the list is one I’ve seen before, but happily sat down to watch again when it came up on TCM’s schedule tonight. Hannah and Her Sisters appears at first glance to be yet another typical Woody Allen picture, and in many ways it is. But this one has something that most of his other films, especially up to this point, didn’t really have; a real heart, and a warmth to the proceedings, rather than just viewing it all through a neurotically comedic lens. That’s how we came to like or even love Woody Allen is through that lens; now that he has us, he can show us what he can really do with his writing and directing, and Hannah and Her Sisters is typical Allen made with a few different ingredients tossed into the mix this time.
The film is a three-fold narrative, all connected in some way to the character of Hannah, played by Mia Farrow. The three narratives focus on Hannah’s current husband, played by Michael Caine, her previous husband, played by Allen, and one of her sisters, played by Dianne Wiest. Each has their own narrative arc, which all ties together with the family of, well, Hannah and her sisters, by the end of the film. I think what I like about this one, compared to Allen’s other films, is how refined this one is, almost like a fine wine instead of the sudsy champagne that is his other work. Similarly, if one goes into this with a moderately different mindset, like one is going to dine on a fine, exquisitely prepared meal as opposed to a few hearty bowls of Rice Krispies, then one can really get the most out of what this film has to offer. Naturally, any more that I can say about it is everything I’ve said about Allen’s films in the past; excellent script, backed up with spot-on directing and first-class acting. But if there’s one thing that Allen has down, it’s consistency, especially keeping consistent the parts of his films that do work.
One may argue that Allen has too many films on the list, and honestly, it’d be hard to argue against it. But, as a counter-point, all I’d have to do is sit someone down and have them watch any of his films in the Book, and it will be readily apparent that it is just too damn good not to be on there. Hannah and Her Sisters is a perfect example. It seems so superfluous at first glance, but Allen does so much with this picture that it’s no wonder it ended up getting more Oscar nominations than any of his other films to date, including Annie Hall. This is certainly one to see if you haven’t yet; I don’t know how much of a “must see before you die” it is, but I can damn near guarantee you won’t be unhappy that you spent the time on it.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10