When their young friends announce their separation, a long-married couple split and look for passion with younger lovers, only to find themselves experiencing unexpected emotions. — Genre: Feature Film-Comedy — Rating: R — Re... more »lease Date: 16-APR-2002
"He's not happy with her, their friends aren't happy with each other, the friends break up, he flinging with his aerobics instructor, she, trying to indulge in an editor, while everybody self-consciously tells the viewers what they will not tell their (ex-)spouses. We see manipulation posing as truth, vulnerable facades imitating intimacy, lust mimicking passion, and discover, in the end, that perhaps the only true desire in a Woody Allen movie is to dodge happiness & to take pleasure in the misery of knowing that it probably wouldn't have worked out anyhow.Confused yet?I can't imagine anybody still in the "honeymoon" stage of a First Great Love appreciating this movie. For those scarred by years of relationship campaigning, much of Allen's view may ring all-too-true. I won't say how many times I saw myself, my wife, and ex-lovers plastered against the screen. Throughout the movie, individuals and couples long for intimacy, for lasting passion, for refreshment, but end up settling for comfort, manipulation, and denial. I wanted to scream. I hoped, hopelessly, for hope--this is, after all, a Woody Allen Movie--but was left, in the end, with Gabriel (literally "God's Hero") telling viewers that love, romance, and passion can only exist as a neurotic and fleeting figment of experience.Damned if I'm willing to settle for that. And perhaps that's the great strength of this movie. It could, after all, be a satire, not about mid-life-crisis-men seeking youth through young lovers, but showing, in the crassest relief, how barriers and little deceits ultimately lead to destruction and misery in relationships. And maybe that's where the hope lies, in learning to be honest in a way that none of Allen's characters can be, not even with themselves.(If you'd like to discuss this review or DVD in more depths, please click the "about me" link above and drop me an email. Thanks!)"
Bernard Chapin | CHICAGO! USA | 02/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have been a major Woody Allen fanatic since I was 10 years old, but only now, after my third viewing of "Husbands and Wives" did I fully comprehend the importance of this film within his oeuvre. It's home movie feel and documentary style provide subtle integrity for its frames. The acting and the characterization are superb. This may be the best cast he ever assembled with producer, and non-actor, Sydney Pollack even putting forth a remarkable performance. The audience will care about all of the players and wonder exactly what will happen in the end.
Allen denied repeatedly that "Husbands and Wives" was autobiographical but it would be impossible for it not to have been given the events of his life. Here we see him play a writer who, just like Allen, is cherished by fans for his "funnier early works." One wonders whether his affair with Soon-Yi had begun at the time of its production and what exactly his interactions with Farrow were like.
Allen was clearly working through many of his own personal dilemmas and that is exactly why the film is so authentic and believable. It will touch in some way most who see it as sometimes life really does imitate art."
Wince and Love It
Mary C. Dubrock | Paducah, KY | 07/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Never has a movie about relationships hit so many nerves on so many levels. It takes guts to view this film with an open mind. I takes familiarity with relational boredom and heartache to understand it completely.Woody Allen delves into the minds and dysfunctional lives of two and then four couples with the deftness of a ninja in "Husbands and Wives." Rarely have I seen such candor in depiction of the seven year itch. It is a place in time that will be familiar to many couples given the opportunity for honesty and will likely create interesting if not brutal debate in the most secure of unions.The hand held camera used in many of the scenes are not for those prone to motion sickness. Nonetheless, it creates an intimacy and urgency that grant the film credence at its most passionate moments.Each of the characters is someone that the viewer probably knows in situations that they would never discuss, leaving him both baffled and sympathetic.I highly recommend the film to those viewers able to be honest enough and possibly brave enough to face their most intimate relational demons."
A Challenging and Difficult Film
R. J. Marsella | California | 11/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Woody Allen displays his more serious and darker take on relationships in this very mature look at marriage and mid-life crisis. The movie is painfully realistic and is presented as a docu-drama that allows the viewer to evesdrop on the characters most intimate conversations. The actors are all superb. I found Sydney Pollack's performance as a husband who uses a trial separation from his wife (Judy Davis) as a pretext to pursue an affair with a younger woman and then has a change of heart as his eyes gradually open to the absurdity of what he's done , particularly strong. His actions initiate a chain of events that results in Allen and Mia Farrow's characters questioning their own relationship which results in turmoil in their lives as well.
There are scenes that are so well written and acted that they are riveting. We watch these somehow familiar circumstances because we recognise these characters as people we know.
This is a very serious film with very few true comedic moments so if you're seeking a few yucks look elsewhere."
Exceptional Portrait of Relations between Men and Women. Buy
B. Marold | Bethlehem, PA United States | 12/10/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"`Husbands and Wives' is writer / director Woody Allen's last movie before his breakup with Mia Farrow, and, of course, the last in a long series of movies in which Farrow is his costar. As noted in more than one news article in 1992, when this movie was released, it is remarkably predictive of the Allen Farrow breakup and even on the issue over which they would split.
I saw this movie soon after it was released in 1992 and I have not looked forward to viewing it again in order to give a review of this DVD edition. The movie is probably not one of Allen's very best among his later comedies such as `Crimes and Misdemeanors', `Bullets over Broadway', and `Mighty Aphrodite', but it includes what may be some of his most disturbing scenes since `Interiors'. One scene in particular between costar Sydney Pollack and Lysette Anthony is about as emotionally disturbing as all the murder victim scenes from an entire season of CSI rolled into one. This scene really shows off Allen's writing talent. A physically brief scuffle between a middle-aged intellectual and his intellectually lightweight young paramour, becomes a viscerally painful image of a breakdown of relations between two people. Allen's talent is even plainer when we see the girl trapped in the situation where she must stay with the man until he deigns to take her home from a party probably in the darkest Hamptons, far from home base in Manhattan.
Allen has never been the most polished technician with his filmmaking, but he almost always has a major talent behind the camera. In this case, it is Carlo Di Palma. In spite of this, the coordination between the actors business and the camera's point of view is remarkably like a series of `Candid Camera' shots. I almost looked for a credit for the person responsible for being sure there was a lampshade obscuring part of the camera's view in all interior shots. The editing was also explicitly done in a somewhat choppy manner, giving some sense of a documentary style. It was quite clearly not done as a `Documentary' in the same style as `Zelig', but all the technical aspects of editing and cinematography were distinctly raw. Since I have seen enough Allen movies to know this must have been intentional and not due to a lack of skill, I have mixed feelings over whether this choppyness contributes anything to the experience of the story. I am quite certain that unlike the documentary feel of some parts of `Bananas', it does nothing to add any humor to the story. If anything, it heightens the feeling of awkwardness surrounding the principal characters' actions.
As usual, I find myself disagreeing with Peter Travers' blurb from his review in `Rolling Stone' where he uses the phrase `Fiercely funny' in describing the film. In fact, I did not once break out into a laugh as I watched this movie, although the fact that I was watching it alone may have had a lot to do with that fact. But, I have been known to giggle or laugh at least four or five times in the course of an average `The West Wing' episode, even those I may have seen two or three times. (And who said politics isn't funny.)
In more ways than one, this film seems to hark back to the days when Allen split his time between film making and writing short stories for `The New Yorker'. Allen's character is a professor of writing and literature at Columbia, and is credited with having several short stories published in that very same `New Yorker' magazine. Allen's character is also biographical in many other ways, not the least of which was the quip that he probably could not survive for more than 48 hours off the island of Manhattan. (I did crack a smile at this line.)
As usual, Manhattan street scenes and apartments are the primary venues for almost all the shots in the movie. There is a short detour to a middle class home in Brooklyn, but most scenes are in what are probably very expensive apartments on the Upper East Side.
This film is definitely not as interesting or as funny as, for example, `Crimes and Misdemeanors', and yet it is possibly even more powerful emotionally, in spite of the fact that the other movie had a homicide and this film only has bruised emotions. This is even less a comedy than the intentionally seriocomic `Melinda and Melinda'.
I would not recommend this movie to a non-Woody Allen fan, but for people who like and respect his work, this may be one of his most important films. "