Monday, August 1, 2011

Husbands And Wives (1992)

Wives And Husbands

- Cited by Woody Allen as one of his favorite directed films, I found Husbands And Wives (1992) to be a reasonably good film as well.

Shot in a documentary style, Husbands And Wives follows two couples who have some growing up to do: Jack (Sydney Pollack) & Sally (Judy Davis) and Gabe (Woody Allen) & Judy (Mia Farrow). As Jack and Sally's marriage breaks up and they begin seeing other people, Gabe and Judy start to experience problems in their own marriage (ironically, as Allen and Farrow's marriage began to deteriorate). The documentary look and feel in Husbands And Wives is a nice touch and puts a unique twist on your average Woody Allen film.

One thing that kept bugging me throughout Husbands And Wives, however, was that the audience never knows why anyone would care enough about these people to do a sit-down interview with them. Woody Allen is not playing a Duke or a Lord, Judy Davis is not playing a famous actress, and Sydney Pollack is not playing the President of the United States. These are regular Joe characters - who would care enough to interview these ordinary people about their marriages?

Allen pens another good script for Husbands And Wives. The dialogue is a bit on the average side (for Allen) but the film has some especially strong characters that really make the film interesting. The cast is mostly good - and I say "mostly" because Woody Allen fails to impress here in Husbands And Wives as Gabe, a writer (yes, again) and professor who starts to fall for a younger woman (yes, again). One would guess that Allen would nail his role with no problem, since as he has played similar characters before. However, instead of perfectly portraying his character with ease, he looks like he is sleepwalking through the whole film.

Judy Davis on the other hand shakes the film to its core with her performance as the often grim Sally, rightfully being nominated for an Academy Award. Other supporting actors perform their roles very well. Sydney Pollack reels in a good performance in Husbands And Wives as Jack (and is at the center of some of the best scenes in the film), Mia Farrow is quite good as the passive-aggressive Judy (Allen's wife no doubt), and Liam Neeson shows up and does a fine job as Michael in a pre-Schindler's List (1993) role. Juliette Lewis is particularly good in her small role playing a very interesting character, Rain, the young'un who's after Gabe's heart.

Unlike Allen's own opinion of the film, I would not count Husbands And Wives as one of Woody Allen's absolute bests. A good film to be sure with a unique visual style as well as  strong characters and acting, Husbands And Wives is a good film to be sure. However, due to the less-than-titillating dialogue and Allen's own lifeless performance, Husbands And Wives did not appear to be to be at the same high level of quality as others in Allen's filmography.

CBC Rating: 7/10

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