Tuesday, 3 May 2016

I've Just Seen: Husbands and Wives (1992)

Husbands and Wives (1992)


Director: Woody Allen

Allen, as a director, knows how to get good performances from his actors. Of course, it helps if you cast very good actors in the first place, like Judy Davis, Sydney Pollack, Liam Neeson, Juliette Lewis, Mia Farrow and Allen himself. While he usually plays the same character with minor variations, few people play a neurotic Jewish writer like Allen. The script for Husbands and Wives is one of Allen's sharpest, with its observations about a group of couples, and the different crises in their relationships. It all starts when Davis' Sally and Pollack's Jack announce their separation, which in turn makes Allen and Farrow's Gabe and Judy question their own marriage.

While it is not my favourite Allen film - that would be Annie Hall - this is solid Allen. Here he has moved further away from his early slapstick-based comedy (which I do enjoy as well), with more drama and melancholy in this story. Davis was nominated for an Oscar for her role, and she is very good as the brittle Sally; in another era I could imagine Katherine Hepburn playing the character. Farrow is also good as the fragile Judy, whose ex-husband describes her as the person who passive-agressively get what they want, while appearing to be very giving at the same time.

Allen does romantic comedies almost better than anyone else from his generation, and while its does not provide the loudest of laughs, this is still very funny, very clever, and surprisingly even-handed in its treatment of its characters.


  1. I saw it once when it first came out but I remember it fairly well. I remember liking it a lot! And Judy Davis's hilarious "foxes and hedgehogs" speech has definitely stayed with me after almost a quarter of a century.

    1. Judy Davis seemed to get most of the best lines!

      It think its memorable because it combines a simply story - couples re-coupling - but has wonderfully delineated characters.