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
This is one of Woody Allen's strong and quite films that, like most, is multi-layered. On the surface layer it presents an inside look at a dysfunctional family that is coming to terms with themselves, the divorce of their parents, and finally the death of their mother. Under this quite, but strikingly sorrowful first layer is a second layer of insight of considerably more importance. The underlayer is about the interaction of the principal characters and how they attempt to manipulate each other in generally destructive patterns that are even now becoming more and more prevalent in our socioeconomic culture. Not surprisingly, after a second or third look, this film should be included as part of the curriculum for medical residents working towards the specialty of Psychiatry. It is definitely a film about the destructive and continuing decaying family structure with which we are becoming more and more aware. It is not a film about morality, so important an issue in the 1990's, but about the simple misunderstanding of parenting in families that leave so many in our society emotionally crippled. The result is seen in the three daughters, representing the generations of bored and depressed young and middle aged, middle class people that spend great amounts of time and money trying to prove to themselves that they are happy and cope with the idea of real happiness that has eluded them. Of the films that will survive as anthropological glimpses of the 20th and possibly 21st Centuries in the United States, this film will be on the short list.
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