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Drama - Family

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

Duration1h 47m
RatingsUK: 15, USA: PG-13, 
Source of storyAn original screenplay
DirectorWoody Allen
Writers/ScriptWoody Allen
StarringWoody Allen, Barbara Hershey, Carrie Fisher, Michael Caine, Mia Farrow, Dianne Wiest, Maureen O’Sullivan, Lloyd Nolan, J.T. Walsh, John Turturo, Richard Jenkins, Max von Sydow, Sam Waterston, 
RatingsIMDb: 7.9 by 66,646 people. Rotten Tomatoes: 91% from 56 critics.

Elevator Pitch: The film covers two years between three Thanksgiving dinners. Hannah has been married to Mickey but is now married to Elliot. Elliot has a thing for Hannah’s sister Lee, whose partner is an older artist Frederick. Meanwhile Hannah’s other sister Holly has started a catering company to occupy her between acting jobs. Mickey thinks he is dying and so, as well as consulting many doctors about his imagined infirmities, also suffers from a crisis of faith, requiring him to consider alternative religions. 

Content: The film focuses on the relationship between Lee and Elliot, and apparently a non-revelatory sex scene was filmed., but to their relief it was cut. We see the families going through a variety of activities, most of them mundane. Mickey consults doctors, requiring constant second – and third – opinions. The sister’s parents figure extensively, the father often playing the piano, particularly at the Thanksgiving dinners. Holly writes a script which reflects Hannah’s life with Elliot causing a rift between them, but which may have been the result of a date between her and Mickey, a new romance.

A View: This film was extremely successful at the Oscars, where it won three and was nominated for others. Although I really enjoyed it, I could not see quite the depth in it that the mainstream critics have seen. If anything it seemed to me that most of the characters spoke just like Woody Allen, with him taking centre stage most of the time. Of course, once you start relating the script to other major works you then see other things in it, if you are a student of film. And if you are, yet another essential viewing. If you aren’t don’t worry. It is fun.

Additional Info: Much of the filming was done in Mia Farrow’s actual apartment.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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