Hannah And Her Sisters

Hannah And Her Sisters (Woody Allen) - 1986

Hannah (Mia Farrow) is the rock of the family but her sisters (Dianne Wiest and Barbara Hershey) are rather flakey.  Mia's second husband (Michael Caine) has a thing for Barbara who is living with a reclusive painter (Max von Sydow) but then falls for Michael.  Woody is Mia's ex-husband and is also a hypochondriac and a television producer (in that order).  The parents of the sisters are played by Lloyd Nolan (1902-1985) and Maureen O'Sullivan (1911-1998).  This was last movie for Nolan who died before it was released.

Dianne is a former drug user who is trying to be an actor and a caterer but is failing at both.  She finally finds some success writing screenplays about her dysfunctional family.  She had one bad date with Woody but they met again much later under better circumstances.

After two near-death experiences, Woody tries to find religion by converting to Catholicism or Hare Krishna to the chagrin of his Jewish parents.  He recalls the words of Tolstoy ("life is meaningless") and Nietzsche ("life is repetitive") who remind him that he does not want to live through the Ice Capades again.  Woody finally realizes that life is worth living during a Marx Brothers movie.  He also tried analysis but was disillusioned when his analyst installed a salad bar to boost revenue.

This was one of Woody's most successful movies.  Michael Caine and Dianne Wiest won oscars for their supporting performances.  This is really a movie with a fine ensemble cast and no true leads.  This was the second of four Woody Allen movies for Dianne (Purple Rose of Cairo, Radio Days, Bullets Over Broadway).  Sam Waterston, Lewis Black, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and Soon-Yi Previn had small parts. [JAM 1/2/2010]

["Hannah was a character neither Mia nor I understood at the start, and at the finish.  We could never figure out whether Hannah was indeed a lovely, nice person who was the bulwark of the family and the spine who held everyone together, or whether Hannah was not so nice." Conversations With Woody Allen February 1989]

["In Hannah, Michael Caine's part wasn't written for an Englishman.  But there is no American actor who could be a regular man who is an accountant.  American men are dangerous and potent.  Michael has the James Mason (1909-1984) approach.  He loves to work and never stops.  He gets a great kick out of playing a CIA agent or a comic role." Conversations With Woody Allen October 1987]