Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

PG-13   |    |  Comedy, Drama


Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) Poster

Between two Thanksgivings two years apart, Hannah's husband falls in love with her sister Lee, while her hypochondriac ex-husband rekindles his relationship with her sister Holly.

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7.9/10
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  • Woody Allen and Julie Kavner in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
  • Woody Allen and Mia Farrow in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
  • Michael Caine and Mia Farrow in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
  • Michael Caine and Barbara Hershey in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
  • Woody Allen in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
  • Mia Farrow and Dianne Wiest in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

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14 May 2004 | NoArrow
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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