Husbands and Wives - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Husbands and Wives Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ August 8, 2010
The early nineties' shift from the ideal of true love to a boon in modernized romances is very clearly defined in this very real and poignant film from Woody Allen. The film looks at the lives of two couples, Jack and Sally (Pollack and Davis) and Gabe and Judy (Allen and Farrow), who each flirt with the ideas of separation, divorce, dating, and open marriage. Each character plays off all the others so well, and the amazing performances from Davis and Farrow especially lend authenticity and humanity to an otherwise maudlin tale. The film doesn't capture the attitudes of people with everything figured out, but instead these manic, often confused, and regularly volatile people who don't understand what they want, or how to get it. At the end, the characters' motivations become clear and we see what dispassion and animosity can grant in a relationship.
Super Reviewer
April 28, 2014
The mockumentary set-up is rather unnecessary, and some of the relationships make and break too quickly, but the script holds nothing back. These husbands and wives sure get ugly: from Sally's darkly comedic manic episodes during a blind date to Jack orchestrating an ill-timed reunion while making his new squeeze wait in the car.

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.
Super Reviewer
February 25, 2011
Whether you are a fan of Allen or not, this film needs to be watched for the opening scene alone. When Jack (Sydney Pollack) and Sally (Sally Davis) come over for a dinner at their friend's Gabe (Woody Allen) and Judy's (Mia Farrow) house, they inform the unexpecting couple that their marriage is dissolving. This is where Allen's genius comes in. Rather than focusing on Jack & Sally, he focuses on Gabe & Judy's reaction to the news and the implications it has on their own marriage. Using a handheld, Allen invasively follows Gabe and Judy. As the camera shakes and follows the disquieted couple, you really get the sense that this news has shaken their foundation. It is a brilliant scene and in my opinion, Woody's best.
Super Reviewer
June 9, 2007
I have decided that I will limit myself to one Woody Allen film in the films I consider my "favorites," and this shall be the one. Annie Hall may be the world's darling, but this is truly a neglected jewel in the American cinema. It's clever ("Life doesn't imitate art; it imitates bad television" haha Juliette Lewis LOVE), manipulative, and filled to the brim with memorable chracters. And my god Judy Davis is SO GREAT to watch. Her magnetism is like, arresting.
Super Reviewer
February 3, 2010
After awhile some of the Woody Allen films start to merge together but I clearly remember this one. Parallels to Woody's own life abound with stand out performances from Sydney Pollack and Judy Davis.
Super Reviewer
½ August 13, 2013
Woody Allen is a highly inconsistent director. While he has created great works throughout the years such as Annie Hall and Midnight in Paris, he's almost made some I couldn't stand. And not only critically inconsistent, but for me personally. While I enjoy Anything else, this movie which is 100% on rottentomatoes, is really unmoving in my eyes. I didn't understand what was going on with the confusing narrative. Woody seems to copy Bergman in Passion of Anna, with the interview style, but he does it so much worse. And that was the hurtful point to the film, the narrative. And the more I watch Woody, I find him going farther and farther from what I'd call a great director. He's a genius writer though. The cast is great, outside of Woody, we have his then spouse (before incest) Mia Farrow, who's wonderful. This film also stars Pollack, Judy Davis, and a small appearance from Neeson. But even the familiar faces can't bring this movie out of the hole.
Super Reviewer
½ February 14, 2010
I think the more personal Woody Allen makes his dramas the better they are. The documentary style is extremely effective and Judy Davis gives one of the greatest supporting performances I've ever seen.
Super Reviewer
½ May 23, 2007
I'm adding an extra half star to this for sticking with me almost a month after I watched it.
Super Reviewer
½ December 20, 2007
Woody Allen making a film about relationships is nothing original, and yet he still manages to make each one unique. This is one of his best.
Critique Threatt
Super Reviewer
April 13, 2010
One of my fav Woody Allen pictures. "Husband And Wives" sort of reminds me Denys Arcand's movie "The Decline of the American Empire". You have two married couples and one of them makes a speech about a seperation. I think the reality is the married couple on the verge of seperation(Sydney Pollack, Judy Davis) feels they aren't competitive enough with couple number two)Woody Allen, Mia Farrow).

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.
Super Reviewer
½ April 25, 2008
This plot was predictable and not especially interesting.
Super Reviewer
½ January 15, 2007
Bergman material meets New Wave flair, with Woodyisms sprinkled in: a mix that's far from perfect, but not as I would have predicted if you'd told me this was what I was getting into beforehand.
September 19, 2015
Definitely Woody Allen's best drama he's ever made and a strong challenger to Annie Hall as his all time best. Allen, Pollack, Lewis, Davis, and Anthony are the stand outs here rounded out a terrific ensemble that also featured Mia Farrow, Blythe Danner, and Liam Neeson. The screenplay is so poetic and smart make it certainly Allen's richest screenplay in his career. I loved the way it was filmed and you could really feel the tension of the movie with the current events at that time in Allen and Farrow's life but made it even stronger of a movie. I loved this movie. One of the best of 1992
½ June 12, 2015
Just when you think you hit the bottom of the film, it ends up being a little more deeper than you thought. Its sit down interview style is unexpected, but appreciated, as it adds to the movie's realism.
½ December 26, 2014
Sydney Pollack and some of the other actors deliver good performances, but even they can't save the terribly grim, loud, ego hand-job of a script.
June 15, 2014
Uncompromisingly realistic about the nature of relationships and the selfishness inherent in them, Husbands and Wives eschews humor for angry, but compelling drama.
March 23, 2014
Apologetically Woody Allen and I went to the very same High school with a 15 year difference I must say another Woody Allen Celebration of the once great liberal Corporate capitalist society's middle class lifestyle and the objectification the human experiences of sex and living.

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.
October 31, 2013
Woody Allen returns to themes he has explored time and time again, love, lust, marriage, and infidelity. That doesn't mean he can't be excellent on this well worn territory. "Husbands and Wives" is a much deeper exploration of the marriage aspect of these themes, and it does a great job capturing the reality of these marriages. Great performances all around. This film was made and released in the midst of the Mia Farrow and Woody Allen break-up and custody battle, and is the last time Farrow would appear in an Allen picture. It's sad that Allen couldn't break it off more gracefully with her before pursuing a relationship with Farrow's adopted daughter, and it is a shame that they will never work together again, because they made an incredible body of work together for 13 films. Look at the range of performances Farrow gave with Allen. This is their last collaboration, and some scenes were made after Farrow discovered the affair Allen was having, but it all works. A smart film, with unique editing techniques for an Allen film.
July 29, 2013
"Husbands and Wives" is an often over-looked Woody Allen movie. And that's a shame. Sure, it deals with the typical Woody-isms: unhappy marriages, infidelities, longings to be with someone else, and intelligent characters who seem to thrive on self-inflicted drama. But it's one of Allen's best movies.
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.
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