Woody Allen's 22nd film is the story of two married couples confronting change which forces them to review and reevaluate their marriages.
Allen, Mia farrow, Sydney Pollack and Judy Davis play the four characters, none of which is likable.
Davis plays a particularly unpleasant bitter and acidic wife. Each has a selfish need to look elsewhere for romance and fulfillment. Juliette Lewis, who received an Academy Award nomination for her role in Cape Fear, is Allen's creative writing student who becomes the object of his affection.
Allen uses quick bright prose for dialogue similar to the majority of his work, but he warns the theater projectionist in a letter to expect what looks like bad editing and blurred scenes. That adds to the uneasiness of the characters but also makes for an irritating presentation to the audience as does the use of a free camera which bounces as it moves, adding to the irritation.
Motivations are not as clear as they were in Hannah and Her Sisters and individual inclinations are blurred beyond old men looking for young lovers and Farrow's character being manipulative. The only true lovers are the parents of Rain (Lewis) played by Blythe Danner and Brian McConnachie; they continue to share affection long into their marriage. Lewis is most effective as a seductive 20 year old bright student who moves her head and body away from others in her scenes like a female James Dean.
If you are an Allen fan you probably will enjoy Husbands and Wives, but not as much as some of his other work.
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