The more modern outputs I watch of Woody Allen, the more I feel more appreciative to his earlier outputs. Somehow his failures in adapting to modern filmmaking have made his older movies not only more desirable, but better on the whole. Hannah and Her Sisters is by all means one of the better outputs from the glory days of Woody Allen comedy dramas.
Starring a whole host of actors I admire, Hannah and Her Sisters relies heavily on the astonishing ensemble. It’s only fair that this works incredibly well, featuring personal favourite Michael Caine in a rightly Academy Award winning performance. Mia Farrow plays well as the titular Hannah, and an always enjoyable Diane West blends well with a superb Woody Allen performance.
It’s nice to see a few unexpected tropes cropping up throughout. Michael Caine’s affable performance as Elliot is a divine performance, possibly some of the best work of his career. He blends a desire for love with a particular guilt extremely well, and it all comes together by the end with some nice scenes of self-realisation. Nobody could’ve done this better than Caine, who is masterfully cast; luckily holding some great chemistry with Mia Farrow and Barbara Hershey.
My only real issue is that with so much going on, not every character has enough time to develop and flourish as well as others. Max von Sydow’s limited performance yields incredible results, a prime example of how a short screen time can still pave the way for an incredible performance. Others don’t fare as well, with a forgettable Carrie Fisher and an unfortunately unfulfilled story involving Maureen O’Sullivan and Lloyd Nolan.
Once again proving that a Woody Allen movie works best when Allen makes an on-screen appearance, Hannah and Her Sisters is a great drama filled to the brim with the tropes that make Allen such an enjoyable director. Thoughts of death, relationships and everything in between, it’s what he does best at this point. He does it frequently enough that he has hits and misses, with Hannah and Her Sisters thankfully being one of his best movies to date.