Crimes and Misdemeanors Screen 6 articles

Crimes and Misdemeanors

1989

Crimes and Misdemeanors Poster
  • The overall “philosophical” thrust—that good guys finish last and that crime does pay—is designed to make the audience feel very wise, but none of the characters or ideas is allowed to develop beyond its cardboard profile (though Alda has a ball with his part).

  • It's an extremely ambitious film, most akin perhaps to Hannah and her Sisters, the narrative and tonal coherence of which it sadly lacks, though the assured direction and typically fine ensemble acting manage partly to conceal the seams. Dramatically, the film seldom fulfils its promise, and its pessimistic 'moral' - that good and evil do not always meet with their just deserts - looks contrived and hollow. Intriguing and patchily effective, nevertheless.

  • For Crimes and Misdemeanors, Woody Allen devised a gimmicky but commanding two-for-one deal for his fans. Within one alternating bifurcated narrative, you get to see one of the director's stark, overtly symbolic morality dramas as well as one of his comparatively fizzier self-conscious romantic dramadies.

  • What's mysterious and miraculous to me is the way that the two stories inform each other without Allen forcing the issue via cutesy deliberate parallels. Until the magnificent final scene that brings Judah and Cliff together, it really does play like two completely separate films that have been spliced together, each of which _as it turns out_ would have been incomplete without the other. Not sure if that italicized phrase conveys what I want it to, but it’s the heart of the matter, I think.

  • Featuring one of the finest casts Mr. Allen has ever assembled, “Crimes and Misdemeanors” has novelistic richness in delineating character — so much so that, at 104 minutes, the narrative feels squeezed. (I would have welcomed another half-hour.) The cinematic texture is unusually complex as well. Mr. Allen effects some startling juxtapositions, as when a hit man stalks his prey to a Schubert quartet.

  • Deftly juggling grim moral urgency and comic self-flagellation, the director’s rejoinder to Dostoyevsky gazes no less deeply into the darkest recesses of human nature. A fable about the need for fables, it remains one of the director’s most humane works and perhaps his most chilling.

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