- Husbands and Wives review by Steve
This film was released at the time of Woody's separation from Mia Farrow and its raw, documentary feel made it seem that some of the blows were landing close to home. Husbands and Wives mimics fly on the wall reality tv with hand held cameras and jump cuts, and the actors are interviewed in character about the emotional response to their experiences.
A middle aged, middle class couple (Sydney Pollack and Judy Davis) visit Woody and Mia and inform them they are separating. This sets wheels in motion for the latter pair. By the end of the film all of the characters have been badly burned by the consequences of their inability to manage their ever evolving needs.
It's pretty relentless and brutal stuff and a lot of pain is condensed into its slender narrative. Woody writes about how hard it is to be married, how the manipulations that help us make it work are the very things that will destroy it. There is little humour. A character says to Woody about his past work: 'All this suffering, you make it so funny'). But there's not much of that here.
The writing is bitter and desolate and pretty frank. Of the cast, Judy Davis is magnificent as a sexy, middle aged ballbreaker. Juliette Lewis is interestingly ambiguous as Allen's young, volatile, high maintenance writing class student. At the end of the film, Woody being interviewed (as Gabe), says to the camera: 'Can I go now? Is this over?' As if the whole experience was too intense and destructive to endure. This is one of Allen's greatest films.
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