Husbands and Wives Screen 5 articles

Husbands and Wives


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  • Allen's conception of character is as banal and shallow as ever, but the lively performances of some of his actors—mainly Davis, Pollack, and Juliette Lewis (as a creative writing student of Allen's who has a brief flirtation with him)—and the novelty of the film's style make this more watchable than many of his features.

  • Allen's lost masterpiece, along with Crimes and Misdemeanors three years earlier, remains one of his most personal and incisive works to date. Though it's as disciplined and pragmatic as its wellspring (Ingmar Bergman's Scenes From a Marriage), this neurotic but frighteningly universal masterpiece is still one of Allen's least explicitly Bergmanesque ventures.

  • ...Usually, Allen’s ensembles feel mostly like a stringing together of Woody surrogates, yet here he’s often giving up center stage to his costars, and letting them speak for themselves. The result feels something like a work of crosshatch art, where actions pile one on top of the next, both hiding and revealing, and characters’ words are later used against themselves—everyone’s contradictions and hypocrisies are exposed by a precise editing that pits everyone in sharp, dialectical opposition...

  • When I first saw “Husbands and Wives,” the audience muttered anxiously when Gabe declined to sleep with Rain. The character passed a test that the real Allen failed. We were watching an emotional snuff film. But if you can factor out the biographical ugliness, “Husbands and Wives” is a key work — a bleak comedy-drama about middle-aged married couples failing to communicate, growing apart and hurting each other terribly.

  • They denounce rigid exactitude, purposefully rejecting conventional rules of “proper” filmmaking: continuity editing, sharp focus, compositional balance, et cetera. Allen may have abandoned his initial desire to shoot in bristly 16mm, but he and [cinematographer Carlo] Di Palma still managed to retain a jarring hand-held camera, bouncing around jump cuts and erratic movements.

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