Woody Allen skillfully blends comedy and drama in this wonderfully observed portrait of the lives, loves, and issues of a close knit family and their significant others over the course of a couple of years.
Hannah (Mia Farrow) is the oldest child of artistic parents. She's a successful, kind, and thoughtful actress, wife, and mother. She's basically the backbone of the family, who both hate and need her. Her two sisters, Holly (Dianne Wiest) and Lee (Barabra Hershey) are more aimless and resent her because of her stable and successful life, yet the rely on her for support so much that they couldn't possibly truly hate her. However, Hannah begins to realize that she's just as lost as the rest of the world when her life starts to unravel due to sibling rivalry and betrayal.
This movie has some really serious dramatic moments, but they are nicely balanced out by some terrifically funny stuff involving Woody's character- a hypochondriac in the TV industry who goes through existential and spiritual crises, There's humor with some of the other characters, but the bulk comes from Woody's Mickey. This film has it all: comedy, tragedy, pain, relief, laughs, and tears. It all works wonderfully and reeks of realism and experience. Simply put, this is some truly great writing.
The performances are also just terrific. The three ladies playing sisters have a great rapport together, Woody is great as usual doing his trademark shtick, Michael Caine (who, along with Wiest snagged an Oscar for his work here) is quite good as the husband to won sister who has an affair with one of the other two. Showing up in some nice supporting roles are Carrie Fisher and Max von Sydow, both of whom, despite being supporters, do a good job. I also enjoyed seeing Daniel Stern make a brief appearance, as well as Julie Kavner, who I think pretty much stole the few scenes she was in.
All in all, this is just an excellent study of human relations, and ranks pretty high as some of Allen's best work. In a way, this almost felt like light opera or super high art, only not as pretentious and more accessible. Even then this won't be for everyone, but if you give it a chance, there's bound to be something here for you to enjoy. Definitely give this one a go.