HANNAH AND HER SISTERS
MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *1/2 (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
I’ve never really been much of a Woody Allen fan. Sure, I can appreciate some of his classics like “Annie Hall,” and his more recent endeavors like “Match Point” are quite good. However, he isn’t a pillar in my filmmaking tastes.
This always puts me in an odd spot when talking to other lovers of film. I get strange looks of confusion when I pooh-pooh his work and shrug him off. So many people out there think he’s an absolute genius, while I think he’s just okay.
This happened notably to me twice regarding “Hannah and Her Sisters.” When I tweeted out that I didn’t particularly like the film (mainly because I didn’t like the characters), I was hit up with a bunch of incredulous @replies. Boy, I had struck a nerve… and I didn’t even say I hated it. I just said it was one of his lesser works.
Similarly, as I write this review at a Panera Bread, I had a gentleman come up to me and strike up a conversation with me about the Blu-ray. He considers it Allen’s masterpiece. I politely smiled and directed the conversation in another direction.
Whether you love it (which seems to be everyone else in film criticism) or find yourself a bit bored with it (like me), “Hannah and Her Sister” it at the very least a conversation starter.
The story follows several relationships, all centered around Hannah (Mia Farrow). She embarks on an affair with her sister’s husband (Michael Caine) while her other sister (Diane Wiest) struggles with finding love and a career. As the relationships disintegrate, we learn more about the characters’ personal pain and dysfunction.
“Hannah and Her Sisters” represents a specifically more dramatic work than Allen’s earlier New York films like “Annie Hall” and “Manhatten.” He still takes a role to keep things light at times, but he’s really set in the wings for most of the production.
While realistically written for the characters he develops and very well acted by a strong ensemble cast, my biggest problem is that I never could get past my distaste for the actual people populating the film. This, of course, begs the question of whether you need to like the characters in a movie to like the movie, a debate I engaged in after panning movies like “Young Adult.” In my experience, there has to be something personally likeable about a film’s characters in order for me to enjoy it.
It’s not that the characters in “Hannah and Her Sisters” are unrealistic or poorly written. I just didn’t like spending two hours with them. Add to this the oddly creepy real-life angle of Allen writing a story of infidelity involving then-wife Mia Farrow, and a weird doting monologue he gives himself at the end of the film, and the movie just left a bad taste in my mouth.
But then again, remember that I’m in the minority on this opinion.
Like a chunk of the library releases from MGM and Fox, the “Hannah and Her Sisters” Blu-ray comes with pretty much no special features. The theatrical trailer is included, but nothing else. This makes the grab for Blu-ray less of a necessity and more for the fans of the film itself (of which it does have many, I’ll admit). Still, with Woody Allen being known for his more muted level of filmmaking, this isn’t an eye-popping movie to start with. Still, if you like this flick and you haven’t got your hands on a DVD of it, it’s worth checking out.