The story of a very dysfunctional family and what happens when the parents divorce. Eve (Geraldine Page) and Arthur (EG Marshall) are a 60-something couple, recently separated. They have three adult daughters - Renata (Diane Keaton), Joey (Mary Beth Hurt) and Flyn (Kristin Griffith). Renata is a poet and is married to Frederick (Richard Jordan). Joey is (reluctantly) in advertising and is married to Mike (Sam Waterston). Joey is a film and TV actress. Eve is an incredibly negative woman and this has had a toxic effect on her children. This results in stifling, unsupportive relationships and joyless lives. Written by
The three adult daughters of a quiet attorney and an imperious matriarch are alternately offended and benumbed by their parents' divorce and their father's "hasty" decision to remarry (leaving mama to fend for herself, probably something she needs but does not enjoy--there's no one to boss around). Bergmanesque drama from writer-director Woody Allen, who does not appear or even feel present (Pauline Kael of the New Yorker claims his neuroses have been transposed to the mother-character, but I never felt like I was watching something created by Woody Allen). All the actors are quite fine playing characters who are high-strung, uptight, woebegone (yet oddly, never intentionally comical), yet the flatness of the dialogue and the listlessness of Mary Beth Hurt's frequent narration may strain some viewers' patience. Some of the wordy sequences tend to ramble, and what words! Allen has a fixation with non-textbook terms for multiple abnormal psychoses; and no matter how educated Hurt's character is supposed to be, I had trouble swallowing some of the high-brow talk in her third-act put-down of Geraldine Page. The movie--seriously well-scrubbed, sterile and somber--has many conflicts and personality quirks which feel real and intricate, and Page's high society dementia is riveting (alternately, Maureen Stapleton's gaudy low-class is also superb). The three sisters remain enigmas that confound and confuse (each other and the viewer) but Diane Keaton's gritty reserve as the eldest daughter is the one I gravitated towards. Not a masterpiece (as some critics claimed), but certainly not a dud. It's Woody's art-house gambol, a dark one, and it leaves behind a fascinating imprint. *** from ****
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