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   HUSBANDS AND WIVES (2008) 

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CAST
Woody Allen
Mia Farrow
Judy Davis
Sydney Pollack
Liam Neeson
Juliette Lewis
Lysette Anthony

DIRECTED BY
Woody Allen

PURCHASE


DVD




Time: 107 mins.
Rating: R
Genre: Comedy/Romance

Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress (Davis).


Though I'm not generally a huge fan of Woody Allen's, I do think he can be one of the best writer/directors working in the industry today. He creates memorable characters who bring real life situations to the screen with wit, power, pain and comedy. He captures true life in all its ugly details and isn't afraid to show it. We all laugh at these situations because we've been there before and are glad it's happening to someone else. HUSBANDS AND WIVES is not always an easy film to watch for two reasons: it's about the slow and painful break-up of a marriage and because it mirrors Allen's own personal life at the time. Filming this could not have been easy for Allen and Farrow. Not only was he leaving her on the screen for a much younger woman, he was also doing it in real life to be with her adopted daughter. Talk about horrible irony. The only reason I bring this up is because you can't watch this film without thinking about it. It's basically his exact thoughts and feelings about his life, which makes it more involving, yet weirdly voyeuristic.

The film is shot like a documentary and opens with Jack (Pollack) and Sally (Davis) telling their best friends Gabe (Allen) and Judy (Farrow) that they're splitting up. This declaration sends Gabe and Judy into a tizzy. They thought they were just going to dinner with old friends. They can't understand how this could happen. They didn't see any signs. Jack and Sally try to plactate them, telling them they're fine with the decision, it's best for both of them now that the children are gone. It opens a Pandora's box of emotions and thoughts the four of them kept deeply hidden for years. We follow the four of them as they each try to make peace with this new transition. Gabe starts to foster a relationship with Rain (Lewis), one of his 20-year-old writing students, showing her his new novel that Judy isn't even allowed to read. Judy tries to fix Sally up with Michael (Neeson), one of her co-workers, though she's really the one attracted to him.


"You use sex to express every emotion except love."

Jack starts dating women half his age and throws Sally into an emotional maelstrom when he moves in with his aerobics instructor. Their lives are a mess, and for Gabe and Judy, moving in opposite directions. Not receiving the love and support they need at home, they pursue their new "friendships" with vigor. Though neither is physically cheating, in their hearts and minds they are already in love with someone else. Jack and Sally try to date other people, but neither of them are capable of sustaining any relationship except the one they had together. They are just too set in their ways and unwilling to change. In the end, they come full circle. They give up fighting their fate and settle back in. They are stuck with each other and it may not be the best relationship, but at least they aren't alone and miserable.

Gabe and Judy end up getting divorced. They no longer have anything to say to one another. Judy marries Michael, creating the same passive/aggressive relationship, just with a different guy. Gabe ends up alone, but productive. His relationship with Rain just didn't work out. Things end up as they should, but no one's really happy about it. HUSBANDS AND WIVES is a well-crafted, brilliantly-acted, wonderfully written film. Davis is spectacularly funny as a bitter woman who wants out, but ultimately can't unlock the door. Nobody does angry better. Pollack, Allen and Farrow are equally wonderful. I generally find Juliette Lewis so annoying as to be unwatchable, but she does a fine job here with much of the credit going to the script. Neeson is great as a man who just wants to get married, but has no idea what he's getting into.

I really liked the documentary style of this film. It gives the characters the chance to explain themselves and their feelings in a more open way. You got to get inside their relationships, which is what the whole movie was about. This is not a film everyone will like. It's fairly dark and goes to emotional places I hope to never visit, but if you like Woody, it's one of his best. There is nothing more funny than watching someone else's pain, and no one does that better.



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