Starring Mia Farrow, Woody Allen, Michael Caine, Barbara Hershey, Dianne Wiest, Sam Waterston, Daniel Stern, Max Von Sydow, Carrie Fisher, Lloyd Nolan, Maureen O’Sullivan.
Written & Directed by Woody Allen.
Annie Hall is nearly always cited as fidgety New Yorker Woody Allen’s best work. And while I’ll agree that it is a great movie, his best film will, for me, always be Hannah & Her Sisters. There are many reasons for this, and perhaps not the most insignificant being the amount of screen time that Allen has in this film (let’s face it, the guy can get annoying). He is a supporting character amidst a host of supporting characters, for there is really no lead actor in this movie – but a supreme ensemble cast nonetheless, eating up Allen’s words with gusto. Hannah (Farrow) is a successful Broadway actress, which is a constant source of antagonism for her fragile, kooky sister Holly (Wiest). Third sibling Lee (Hershey) lives with a Svengali-type (Sydow), but is the object of lust for Hannah’s husband Elliott (Caine). As their lives and the lives of others intersect, they weave a fine tapestry of trademark Allen humour, drama and pathos. The film won a scriptwriting Oscar for Woody, and it’s easy to understand why – the dialogue is consistently sharp, heartfelt and honest, its’ language resonating with subtle meaning and insight. But my appreciation of this film may be totally singular in that it reminds me of a time and place specific to myself. I’ve had the debate often in regards to Allen’s best film. In younger days, I devoured his work like an insatiable hog. Manhattan, The Purple Rose Of Cairo, Zelig, Play It Again Sam – all magnificent films, and among the many great movies that this prolific writer, director and actor has produced over the last forty years. And even if my interest in Woody Allen has waned in recent times, I never tire of visiting New York with Hannah, Holly and Lee.
by Wadrick Jones