A couple's marriage begins to dissolve when the husband
develops feelings for his kindhearted wife's sister.
Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
Written and Directed by Woody Allen
Starring Mia Farrow, Dianne Wiest, Michael Caine,
Barbara Hershey, Woody Allen, Carrie Fisher,
Maureen O'Sullivan, Max von Sydow, Julie Kavner,
Sam Waterston, Daniel Stern, Lloyd Nolan
Oscar Wins - Best Supporting Actor (Michael Caine),
Best Supporting Actress (Dianne Wiest), Best Original Screenplay
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Director,
Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing
Woody Allen and his gargantuan body of work are definitely acquired tastes. I've only briefly ventured into his filmography with films like Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Whatever Works, and now Hannah and Her Sisters. His personal life aside, he's a great writer who absorbs the world around him and translates onto the page in a way that only he could understand. This film isn't terrible, but it's way too flawed to have taken a win for screenplay. We don't get closure on so many plot threads, and a lot of the relationships at the end of the film feel so forced, particularly the one between Allen himself and Dianne Wiest. I mean, really?
The main story of this multi-storied film is Elliot (Caine) lusting after his wife's sister Lee (Hershey). His wife Hannah (Farrow) is a good person. She gives and gives, and everyone around her just seems to take advantage of her good nature, particularly her consistently unemployed dreamer sister Holly (Wiest). Also, there's Hannah's ex-husband Mickey (Allen), who is just kind of there because Woody Allen can't help but play the neurotic schmuck in so many of his movies. You could cut this thread completely and nothing would change in the film's story. So many of the characters are one-dimensional or barely seen, such as Carrie Fisher's April and Max von Sydow's Frederick. I hate the trope of "intellectual genius who doesn't care about people but wants people to care about him." I get the feeling that this trope fits Allen's reality like a glove.
Hannah and Her Sisters is a celebrated dramedy, and I get it. Films about white people problems in New York City made Woody Allen a screenwriting icon. But there's so much more to these characters that is painfully unexplored. Plus, if you really want to get creeped out, Allen's wife Soon-Yi (Mia Farrow's adopted daughter), plays one of the young children just playing around the house. Not gonna lie. That doesn't help.