Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
|Released:||Friday, February 7, 1986|
|Rating:||Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.|
A romantic comedy set in New York over a Thanksgiving holiday involving Hannah (Mia Farrow) and her precocious siblings (Barbara Hershey, Dianne Wiest), all playing virtual musical chairs with a gang of lovers (Woody Allen, Michael Caine, Max Von Sydow, Sam Waterston). With Lloyd Nolan and Margaret Sullivan (Mia's real-life mom) as the girls' put-upon parents. Allen is very funny as Farrow's hypochondriac ex-husband. Caine and Wiest won Best Supporting Oscars while Allen won a statuette for Best Screenplay.
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Hannah and Her Sisters Blu-ray Review
While I am not a huge fan of Woody Allen's work I did find Hannah and Her Sisters an enjoyable film to watch. Now on Blu-ray for the first time the Academy Award winning film has exceptional acting, reasonably good direction and a story that does compel one to keep going to Allen's interesting choice of a finale. Nicely transferred from screen to home video, you won't miss a beat of the twisty relationship film.
Except for a very few of his films in which he appears, Allen seems to inject a mental disorder or problem whether it's just worrying excessively, a complainer, fidgeting or in this film a neurotic hypochondriac who feigns illness whenever the opportunity deems it necessary. He's the basic comic in the film as most of the other characters are going through relationship, job or physical debilitating issues like a recovering addict for example. But, being the thread that holds the plot together, Allen does a very good job throughout.
The film plays out over a couple of years and centers on three sisters, Hannah (Mia Farrow) the housewife of Elliot (Michael Caine), Lee (Barbara Hershey) who's having an affair with Hannah's husband and Holly (Dianne Wiest) a recovering drug addict who's raising children and trying to make a go of her acting career. In the mix is Mickey (Woody Allen) Hannah's ex-husband who's a TV producer. The interlacing of the actors and their roles create a lot of drama including an attempt at suicide by Mickey, second thoughts involving Lee and Elliot's affair and a rivalry between Holly and her catering partner April (Carrie Fisher) over David a good looking architect. The film works well on all levels with stories that each could make a film, but compiled this way it's more fun to watch and learn.
The video quality compared to other Blu-ray releases of older films is not the best, but for this film it doesn't distract. The poor lighting in just a couple of scenes often dulls rather than punctuates the acting and I actually had to press the rewind button to make sure of what I saw on occasion. This isn't a deal breaker as the film is worth the watch no matter the minor clarity issues. The 1.85:1 widescreen mirrors the theatrical presentation and I had no problem watching it on my HD 16x 9 television set.
The sound on the other hand is extremely good using my surround speakers and flows clear and crisp with no distortion. The DTS-HD Master Audio offers excellent quality and I didn't miss a word of dialog or any of Woody Allen's excessive complaints. That's a good thing by the way as his neurotic character is necessary to the plot. The musical sound track plays nicely without any distraction and actually embellishes some scenes.
There are no special bonus features although it may have been fun hearing some commentary from Woody Allen.
Speaking of Woody Allen, this film came out during the midst of his romance with Mia Farrow of 10 years and it made me wonder if any of the characters or plot may have been influenced by the relationship. The film was released in 1986 and probably written a few years before. Mia had adopted 8-year-old Soon-Yi Farrow Previn in 1978 when she was married to composer Andre Previn. She divorced Previn and moved in with Woody Allen around 1982 bringing the now 12-year-old Soon-Yi along. Soon-Yi would have been around 10 when Mia and Woody started dating. The reason for Mia and Woody's breakup involved infidelity with Soon-Yi although no real evidence as to when his infatuation for her began, he may have already started thinking breakup around his script writing of Hannah and Her Sisters. If all the reports stated above are within reasonable theory, than just maybe his own life had an effect on the Hannah and Elliot characters. Kind of makes the plot a little more salacious, don't you think. I'm just saying.
FINAL ANALYSIS: Mixed feelings on the story but the acting and presentation on Blu-ray makes up for it. (C )
-- John Delia
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