The film shuffles interconnecting storylines concerning three Manhattan sisters: the warm, well-meaning Hannah Mia Farrow is married to the bumbling Elliot Michael Caine , who is in turn attracted to her sister, Lee Barbara Hershey. As an affair begins between the two, Lee's own relationship with the tormented artist Frederick Max von Sydow comes under strain, and light is brought to an otherwise dark canvas by Hannah's ex-husband, fussbudget TV producer Mickey Allen , who becomes involved with Hannah's other sister, the jittery Holly Dianne Wiest. So what was it about Hannah that made it so successful? The balance of comedy and drama is deftly maintained, and there's a palatable, soapy aspect to Elliot and Lee's affair. The film, with its chapter headings, aspires to a novelistic structure, each part favouring a different character or storyline. And the performances are uniformly subtle, especially from Caine who won the Oscar for best supporting actor and the underrated Farrow, who was then an Allen regular as well as his off-screen partner.
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Woody Allen 's "Hannah and Her Sisters," the best movie he has ever made, is organized like an episodic novel, with acute little self-contained vignettes adding up to the big picture. Each section begins with a title or quotation on the screen, white against black, making the movie feel like a stately progression through the lives of its characters. Then the structure is exploded, time and again, by the energy and the passion of those characters: an accountant in love with his wife's sister, a TV executive who fears he is going to die, a woman whose cocaine habit has made her life a tightrope of fear, an artist who pretends to be strong but depends pitifully on his girlfriend. By the end of the movie, the section titles and quotations have made an ironic point: We try to organize our lives according to what we have read and learned and believed in, but our plans are lost in a tumult of emotion. The movie spans two years in the lives of its large cast of characters - New Yorkers who labor in Manhattan's two sexiest industries, art and money. It begins and ends at family Thanksgiving dinners, with the dinner in the middle of the film acting as a turning point for several lives. It is hard to say who the most important characters are, but my memory keeps returning to Elliot, the accountant played by Michael Caine , and Lee, the artist's girlfriend, played by Barbara Hershey.
Hannah and Her Sisters is a film about a woman whose husband falls in love with her sister, while her hypochondriac ex-husband rekindles his relationship with her other sister. I had been so tense my finger had squeezed the trigger inadvertently. But I was perspiring so much the gun had slid off my forehead and missed me. And suddenly neighbors were, were pounding on the door, and, and I don't know, the whole scene was just pandemonium. You know, I was-I was embarrassed and confused and my-my-my mind was r-r-racing a mile a minute. And I-I just knew one thing. I-I-I had to get out of that house, I had to just get out in the fresh air and-and clear my head.