Hannah, Holly and Lee are adult sisters from a show business family, their boozy actress mother who still believes she's an ingénue that can attract any man she wants, despite still being married to the girls' father, Evan. Hannah, on her second marriage to a man named Elliot, a financial advisor, is the success of the family, taking a break from her acting career to raise her children. Everyone turns to her for advice, while she never talks to others about what she needs or feels. Her first husband, Mickey, is a comedy show writer and hypochondriac, who is going through a crisis as he mistakenly believes he will die soon without a clear belief, as a non-practicing Jew, of what will happen to him in the afterlife. Single Holly is the insecure flaky sister, a struggling and thus continually unemployed actress, who has just started a catering business with her actress friend April, in order to do something constructive with her life. In her own security, Hannah even set up Holly and ... Written by
The structure of the film, centering around holiday gatherings, was based on Fanny and Alexander (1982) by Ingmar Bergman. Woody Allen had long been an admirer of Bergman's films. This may also explain the inclusion of Max von Sydow, a Bergman regular, in the cast. In fact, Von Sydow had wanted to be in Fanny & Alexander, but demands made on his behalf by his agent prevented his involvement. See more »
When Lee is about to play a record for Elliot, the music starts before the needle touches the vinyl. See more »
God, she's beautiful. She's got the prettiest eyes. She looks so sexy in that sweater. I just want to be alone with her and hold her and kiss her and tell her how much I love her and take care of her. Stop it you idiot, she's your wife's sister. But I can't help it. I'm consumed by her. It's been months now. I dream about her, I - I - I think about her at the office. Oh Lee, what am I gonna do? I hear myself moaning over you and it's disgusting. Before, when she squeezed past me at...
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One of Allen's best films and definitely his best performance...
"Hannah and Her Sisters" is a comedy/drama (though mostly drama) about a dozen characters and their stories, all connecting back to three sisters: Hannah (Mia Farrow), Lee (Barbara Hershey) and Holly (Dianne Wiest). Hannah is the favorite, talented and kind, Lee is almost equally favored, but Holly is the outcast, with a past of drugs and always asking for money. Other characters include Hannah's hypochondriac ex-husband Mickey (Woody Allen), her current husband Elliot (Michael Caine), Lee's boyfriend Frederic (Max von Sydow) and Holly's friend April (Carrie Fisher).
Like I said before, this is not so much a comedy as it is a drama. The comedy that's in it fits, and is good, but the drama is better. Elliot's secret love for Lee is handled in a romantic way, but their infidelity is still seen as wrong, and you feel their guilt and inner turmoil. Mickey thinks he has a brain tumor, he finds out he doesn't and then he feels worse, and starts desperately searching for a purpose to live. All the other stories are equally dramatic, with comedy fittingly sprinkled in places too.
The acting is quite good, everyone playing their part perfectly, whether it's big or small. The film's best performances come from Allen (in what's no doubt his best performance) and Dianne Wiest as the extremely under-confident youngest sister. Allen and Wiest don't necessarily carry the film, as there's no need to, but their segments were certainly the best, for me at least. The rest of the cast put forward too, especially Max von Sydow and Michael Caine in his first (and so far his only deserving) Oscar win.
Woody Allen's direction is at the top of its form here too, much like "Annie Hall" and his other greats. The camera work and use of voice overs are excellent. For instance, there is an intensely dramatic scene where the three sisters have lunch together and for the entire scene the camera rotates around the table, the speaker not always in the frame. His script is great too, it knows when to be dramatic and when to be funny and when to be both.
One of Allen's very best, 8/10.
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