Homage to Ingmar Bergman in this family drama involving a fashionable Long Island interior designer who tries to impose her overbearing, critical standards on her husband and her three grown daughters. The film is a realistic look at the relationships among one artistically-oriented family; one daughter is a successful writer; the second is looking for an artistic outlet; and the third is an actress. The mother has been deserted by her husband, their father. She thinks and hopes they may reconcile, but she soon learns that he has other thoughts that circle about a new acquaintance, a woman who has had two husbands and is still lively. 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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