Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Husbands and Wives

Written, directed, and starring Woody Allen, Husbands and Wives is the story about a couple’s marriage disintegrating following the announcement of their friends’ decision to divorce. The film explores the world of relationships coming to an end where people go into a journey to find new loves and such as the film would mark Allen’s final collaboration with Mia Farrow after a decade of 12 films in total. Also starring Sydney Pollack, Judy Davis, Liam Neeson, Lysette Anthony, and Juliette Lewis. Husbands and Wives is a provocative yet mesmerizing film from Woody Allen.

The film is a look into the world of marriage and relationships where a couple’s break-up forces another couple to face their own marriage as issues are eventually raised where it leads to certain things about themselves. It’s a film that explores the highs and lows of marriage and relationships as this couple in Jack (Sydney Pollack) and Sally (Judy Davis) have called it quits where both of them seek new lives individually while revelations are unveiled into why they decided to call it quits. For their friends Gabe and Judy Roth (Woody Allen and Mia Farrow), the news of Jack and Sally’s separation definitely brings a reaction where Gabe finds himself intrigued by a 20-year old student named Rain (Juliette Lewis) while Judy tries to set Sally up with her co-worker Michael (Liam Neeson) as Judy tries to deal with her feelings for Michael.

Woody Allen’s screenplay has a narrative that moves back-and-forth where it features the voice of a narrator played by Allen’s longtime costume designer Jeffrey Kurland. The narration plays into these dissolving relationships while characters are seen talking to a documentary film crew as if they’re in a therapy session about themselves and their reaction towards disintegrating relationships. Allen’s approach to his man characters are very unique as they’re all interesting individuals who are also very flawed. Sally is sort of very frigid as she doesn’t seem to be interested in sex and thinks the reason men lose interest in women because they age. Jack is a man who is looking for excitement in his life as Sally couldn’t provide it but a brief tryst with a hooker (Cristi Conaway) and a post-split relationship with an aerobics trainer named Sam (Lysette Anthony).

Eventually, Sally’s relationship with Michael and Jack’s time with Sam would create problems while Gabe and Judy’s relationship would start to disintegrate. Notably as Gabe is a revered novelist/college professor who is often accused of being very critical making Judy feel insecure as Judy herself is a very passive-aggressive person who always get what she wants as she is more affected by Jack and Sally’s break-up. The break-up would play into Judy’s moods where Gabe wants to make love to her at odd times as she’s often confused and flighty leaving Gabe frustrated as he becomes interested in his student Rain who is very smart and is talented in the art of writing. Yet, it would later play into the many confusions about what Gabe and Judy wants and what will happen to them.

Allen’s direction definitely recalls elements of cinema verite where he presents the film in a mixture of documentary with this very loose approach to drama. Notably as many of the film’s dramatic segments are shot in a hand-held style that features elements of the French New Wave where Allen just lets the camera shoot everything as if it’s all happening. It’s a very stripped-down approach for Allen where he wants to capture some semblance of realism in the drama. Especially in the way Allen let the actors act out their frustrations and anger where the dialogue is very frank and confrontational as the camera plays to that intensity. There’s a lot of moments in Allen’s direction where plays into that style while keeping this more simple for the film’s documentary segments where they are reveal but also poignant. Notably in the end where it plays to not just the realities of marriage but also people in what they bring into the relationship. Overall, Allen creates a very compelling and engaging film about relationships and their fallicies.

Cinematographer Carlo Di Palma does brilliant work with the film‘s colorful cinematography to play up the look of the some of the film‘s interiors and exteriors where it has this sense of realism but also a bit of style. Editor Susan E. Morse does fantastic work with the editing where it does play into a sense of style with its use of jump-cuts to capture the energy of the drama. Production designer Santo Loquasto, with set decorator Susan Bode and art director Speed Hopkins, does nice work with the set pieces from the look of the homes the character lives in to some of the places they go to.

Costume designer Jeffrey Kurland does terrific work with the costumes as it‘s mostly casual with the exception of Rain whose youthful clothing play into her personality. Sound editor Robert Hein does excellent work with the sound to play up that sense of realism in the dialogue and scenes set on location. The film’s music soundtrack mostly features some jazz standards and classical music where most of it is played on location to create the realism in the film.

The casting by Juliet Taylor is amazing for the ensemble that is created as it features appearances from Blythe Danner and Brian McConnachie as Rain’s parents, Ron August and John Bucher as a couple of Rain’s former older lovers, Ron Rifkin as Rain’s analyst who fell for her, Benno Schmidt as Judy’s first husband who is interviewed about Judy, and Cristi Conaway as a call-girl Jack briefly hooks up with in the final days of his marriage to Sally. Lysette Anthony is terrific as Jack’s new girlfriend Sam as this young and beautiful aerobics trainer who is full of energy though she isn’t a very smart woman. Liam Neeson is excellent as Judy’s co-worker Michael who goes into a relationship with Sally as he falls for her unaware of Judy’s attraction towards him. Juliette Lewis is wonderful as the student Rain as a young woman who loves Gabe’s work as she reads his manuscripts where her opinion proves to be very strong making Gabe more attractive to her.

Sydney Pollack is superb as Jack as a man seeking for some adventure in his life while admitting about his frustrations towards Sally as he eventually comes to terms with the fact that he might’ve not made the right decision. Judy Davis is brilliant as Sally as a woman who is upset over what Jack did to her as she tries to move on with her life while having a hard time finding herself sexually. Mia Farrow is great as Judy Roth as a woman shocked by Jack and Sally’s split as she starts to question about her own marriage as she finds herself attracted to Michael as it’s definitely Farrow’s best work with Allen. Finally, there’s Woody Allen in a marvelous performance as Gabe Roth as a man going into a journey of his own about himself as he becomes attracted to Rain while dealing with the issues in his own marriage.

Husbands and Wives is a remarkable film from Woody Allen that features amazing performances from Mia Farrow, Judy Davis, Sydney Pollack, Liam Neeson, and Juliette Lewis. The film is definitely one of the most intriguing portraits about marriage and relationships where all of the things talked about in marriage is real as does the sense of temptation to stray. In the end, Husbands and Wives is a phenomenal film from Woody Allen.

Woody Allen Films: What's Up Tiger Lily? - Take the Money & Run - Bananas - Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) - Sleeper - Love and Death - Annie Hall - Interiors - Manhattan - Stardust Memories - A Midsummer's Night Sex Comedy - Zelig - Broadway Danny Rose - The Purple Rose of Cairo - Hannah & Her Sisters - Radio Days - September - Another Woman - New York Stories: Oedipus Wrecks - Crimes & Misdemeanors - Alice - Shadows & Fog - Manhattan Murder Mystery - Don’t Drink the Water - Bullets Over Broadway - Mighty Aphrodite - Everyone Says I Love You - Deconstructing Harry - Celebrity - Sweet & Lowdown - Small Time Crooks - The Curse of the Jade Scorpion - Hollywood Ending - Anything Else - Melinda & Melinda - Match Point - Scoop - Cassandra’s Dream - Vicky Cristina Barcelona - Whatever Works - You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger - Midnight in Paris - To Rome with Love - Blue Jasmine - Magic in the Moonlight - Irrational Man - (Cafe Society)

The Auteurs #24: Woody Allen Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 3 - Pt. 4

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