Combustible Celluloid
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With: Barbara Hershey, Carrie Fisher, Michael Caine, Mia Farrow, Dianne Wiest, Maureen O'Sullivan, Lloyd Nolan, Max von Sydow, Woody Allen, Daniel Stern, Julie Kavner, Joanna Gleason, Bobby Short, Lewis Black, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Christian Clemenson, J.T. Walsh, John Turturro, Sam Waterston
Written by: Woody Allen
Directed by: Woody Allen
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 103
Date: 02/07/1986

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Such Small Hands

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) is one of Woody Allen's best, and tellingly, one of his few 1980s films to be set in the present day (a strong nostalgia runs through these years).

It's a brilliant ensemble piece with all the characters centering around three sisters, Hannah (Farrow), Holly (Dianne Wiest, who won an Oscar) and Lee (Barbara Hershey). Hannah's husband Elliot (Michael Caine, who also won an Oscar) falls in love with Lee, while Lee's older artist boyfriend (Max von Sydow) becomes jealous.

Meanwhile, Holly and her best friend April (Carrie Fisher) fall for the same guy (Sam Waterston), and Hannah's hypochondriac ex-husband Mickey (Allen) worries about a brain tumor.

Allen structured the film like a novel (he won an Oscar for his screenplay), beginning and ending at Thanksgiving dinners. He perfectly captures a seasonal New York flow and intersperses hilarious comedy with glorious, poignant moments (Hershey reading the e.e. cummings poem, Allen finding a new lease on life through the Marx Brothers).

Balance is the key word, but the film lives and breathes. It's a masterwork.

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