Husbands and Wives Reviews
What this movie is though is a tour de force showcase for the acting talents of Judy Davis and Juliette Lewis. I hesitate to call them "Woody's Women" - an endearing though patronizing moniker for his ingenues - because that implies ownership, and since this is purported to be a biographical film, Rain's criticisms of Gabe's patriarchal views of females in his book may hit close to Woody's own home.
Judy Davis is shrill and brittle, but sensuously so. I've never thought much of beady-eyed Juliette Lewis, but her wise-beyond-her-years creative writing co-ed steals every scene. Rain's gratitude is never insincere, and her flirtation is subtle. The long take of her placid face in the cab as Gabe insults her for being honest about his book is so great because she just takes it. She doesn't get upset; she knows she's worth it.
To Allen and Farrow this is a complete blow, almost where they feel threatned that their friends is breaking up. This is an interesting study to see how relationships develops through good and bad. It is almost amazing to see the Pollack character date a young woman in her twenties after his break up. It's clear he's just making up all that time that he's lost when he was locked and married. Now he feels liberated and free that he's managed to find his fantasy girlfriend, only thing is fantasies don't last that long...
But what about Allen and Farrow's characters? Judy(Farrow) is way to passive agressive. She insinuates herself to get whatever she wants and it's unbelivable that she succeeds. As for Allen? He becomes attracted to one of his students played by Juliette Lewis. I guess it's difficult for male teachers to be tempted by their good looking female students.
Allen is wise showing the conflicts within the relationships that it's almost sort of uneasy to watch. Only because it's happen to people in real life and in most relationships you gotta argue and debate and have emotional feelings because after all we're only human. I noticed the jerky hand held style Allen decided to attempt and although I didn't like it in "Manhattan Murder Mystery" the style feels right for "Husbands and Wives" and the documentary feel since all the characters talk about their personal relationships.
"Husbands And Wives" is a movie i've watched over and over and never seemed to get tired off. Sometimes I wonder and say "Is this what being in a relationship is all about?". So many consequences one can imagine.
Sorry I am not the biggest of fans though respectfully one can suppose they should be grateful for subject matter that would be better detailed in a book rather than in the shorthand form of popular film and cinema in what is not always relevant to everyone. Woody Allen films though of a interesting nature and good quality seemingly often presents a one sided view of what is essentially existential liberal and intellectual as if his life revolves around what exists in a Cocoon. These films are not Robert De Niro Raging Bull. Woody Allen perhaps Woody Allen closest to Dustin Hoffman in many ways is distinguished as even more insular where I would wish he broke out of his mold that is unique to him as a stylized artist who seems to have stopped expanding beyond what he has already done in his career.
This title Husbands and Wives lives up to its title but it fails to expand beyond that subject matter 26 minutes into the film in its predictable formulaic nature which though thoughtful and provocative in that sense neither present entertainment nor any intellectual breakthrough in the sphere of the middle class life style.
I want and demand significance and though this film is interesting but in that it fails to provide what "I want and demand significance" I am disappointed. This is not the three stooges nor peter Boyle. This is exclusively Woody Allen where I presume his productions are the products of his cloistered environment which means nothing to me except the world is pathetically mundane which would need to produce the dynamics of the working and under classes if there was no "working and under classes" that are sorely lacking in Woody Allen films.
So 35 minutes into the film and I am still bored as the dynamics are insular subjective of a personal nature that seems to be lacking a social element similar in nature to Jane Austen but lacking the blunt social dynamics life is so full of.
Perhaps "Husbands and Wives" gets forgotten because it was the first movie Allen released while he was subjected to ridicule for marrying Mia Farrow's adopted daughter. (Reread that, please. Most people think that Woody Allen married Mia Farrow's ACTUAL daughter. Some people even think that Woody Allen and Mia Farrow adopted Soon-Yi together. That doesn't make it anymore right or wrong, but I digress.) As funny as it sounds, I think the intense, real-life stress everyone was feeling at the time fueled these performances. Especially Mia Farrow - this is one of my favorite performances Farrow gives in any Woody Allen movie. And that's saying a lot. No doubt her true pain bleeds through. Unfortunately, this is her last pairing with Woody.
The film begins with sad news. Sally and Jack (played by Judy Davis and Sydney Pollack) have revealed to their best friends, Gabe and Judy (played by Woody and Mia), that they are getting divorced. This news is shocking to Gabe and Judy, and they can't believe it. Sally and Jack have always been so happy - they seemed to have had the perfect marriage. This is one of the most powerful scenes in the movie. Note the camera movement. It's shaky. It's uneven. It makes you feel disoriented. The opening scene sets the tone for the rest of the film. This is a movie about marriage, and it documents just how unpredictable and incredibly hard it is to have a successful marriage.
How brilliant, then, to present the film in a mockumentary style. Expose might be the better word here. Regardless. We become the camera. And Allen makes it known that we are now the voyeurs.
Most times Allen keeps the camera on one character and ignores all of the other action taking place in the scene. This is a brave move, and it works wonderfully. What we get is an incredibly up-close and personal connection with the character. You can't hide your emotions when there's a camera placed directly in front of your face.
Allen also edits the movie as shaky as he shoots it. Sometimes characters are cut-off mid-sentence (a technique he'd later adopt for "Deconstructing Harry" as well), and this might suggest that maybe these characters are never quite sure of themselves. Maybe they don't know exactly what they want in life or their relationships.
"Husbands and Wives," in my opinion, expands upon what Allen says towards the end of "Annie Hall." When Allen and Diane Keaton are flying back to New York from their visit to Los Angeles, Allen says that a relationship is like a shark - it has to keep moving (both people have to grow together?) in order for the relationship to stay alive. And if one person moves forward and the other doesn't, then you're left with a dead shark. When this happens, a break-up is inevitable. This is exactly what is presented in "Husbands and Wives."
To have said all of this and not comment much on the acting should indicate how fantastic this movie really is. And each actor gives an absolute visceral performance. I won't say much about the acting because I think it's something you need to experience for yourself. But I will comment on Juliet Lewis' performance and say that her character drew me in (much like she drew Woody Allen's Gabe in as well). I couldn't help but imagine Jennifer Lawrence in the role had this movie been made today.
On the surface, "Husbands and Wives" appears to be arguing against the idea of marriage. But I think it actually does the opposite. It takes two to have a successful marriage, and that's evident here. It takes two to keep that shark alive. What Allen does here is show how hard it is to be married - can you weather the storm? And survive each crisis? Together is the key, though. As Sydney Pollack's character says: Sometimes you can be a lot more alone when you're with somebody. If you can't weather that storm together, then it'll devour you and you'll be left completely alone. Sometimes you realize that and you can save your marriage. Other times it's too late.