Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

hannah and her sisters poster 1986
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Classic Woody Allen

If you don't like Woody Allen's style, you probably won't like the movie

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Hannah and Her Sister

Studio:  A Jack Rollins and Charles H. Joffe Production

Genre(s):  Comedy/Drama

Release Date(s):  February 7, 1986

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

hannah and her sisters michael caine mia farrow

Dang…I want to jump Hannah’s sister

Hannah (Mia Farrow) and her two sisters Lee (Barbara Hershey) and Holly (Dianne Wiest) have challenging lives.  Hannah’s husband Elliot (Michael Caine) is in love with Lee who is involved with an artist and her former teacher Frederick (Max von Sydow).  Holly is a struggling actress with a cocaine addiction and a catering company with her friend April (Carrie Fisher).  Hannah’s ex-husband Mickey (Woody Allen) is a hypochondriac TV producer who finds a life changing crisis after a clean bill of health.  Hannah and her sister’s lives are never boring.

Written and directed by Woody Allen, Hannah and Her Sisters is a dramatic comedy.  The movie follows Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo in 1985 and was released to critical acclaim.  The movie won Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor (Caine), Best Supporting Actress (Wiest), and Best Original Screenplay with nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, and Best Film Editing.

If nothing else, you can debate a Woody Allen film.  Good or bad, Allen usually does something interesting.  While many put Allen’s classic period earlier in his career, movies like this prove that Allen is/was a talent far into the ’80s and beyond.

hannah and her sisters barbara hershey max von sydow

I once knew a girl whose head could spin around!

Allen based a lot of the storytelling on Fanny and Alexander and the plot follows its structure (circling around Thanksgiving).  The story follows two very eventful three years in the story of the three sisters.  Though Woody Allen kind of shoehorns himself into the plot (as the ex-husband of Hannah and later husband of Holly), he does work because he helps to explain why life must go on despite problems…a theme of the movie.

Mia Farrow wasn’t the first choice for Hannah but she really works here.  The character was based on Farrow and she seems natural in the role (with her mother Maureen O’Sullivan playing her mother in the film).  Max von Sydow is an interesting edition as the older lover of Barbara Hershey and it is nice to see him in a different type of role in an English film.  Hershey likewise is believably magnetic and it seems plausible that she could win Caine’s character despite his love of Hannah.  Wiest always plays the outsider in her movies and it is because she plays it well…here, she’s the damaged sister.  The movie also features cameos and small roles by Carrie Fisher, Lewis Black, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, J. T. Walsh, John Turturro, Julie Kavner, Richard Jenkins, and Daniel Stern.

hannah and her sisters woody allen dianne wiest

Does my nervous banter worry your coke-addled mind?

The movie has the New York City setting that makes Woody Allen pictures Woody Allen pictures.  Allen goes through and around the city and seems to make it feel natural while still hitting many of the major sites like Central Park.  It actually utilized Farrow’s apartment in the movie which helps to give the movie another layer of realism.

Hannah and Her Sisters is classic Woody Allen.  It might not come from his vintage period, but it has all the aspects that made Woody Allen who he was.  It presented a story with a lot of drama, love, lust, and comedy…plus Woody Allen and a completely Woody cast.  Allen followed Hannah and Her Sisters with Radio Days in 1987.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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