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Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) - Blu-ray Review

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Hannah and Her Sisters - Blu-ray Review

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5 stars

The family tree gets a bit uprooted in the fantastic Hannah and Her Sisters.  Set between two family thanksgivings, this 1986 offering from writer/director Woody Allen is rich in storytelling flow – as the characters take turn narrating the events – and well-mined by its acting talent.  Starring Michael Caine, Mia Farrow, Barbara Hershey, Max von Sydow, and Dianne Wiest, Hannah and Her Sisters is a perfectly imperfect 24-months spent with one family as they experience the highs and lows of life, love, and lunacy.

Written by Allen, the three main arcs of the story involve Hannah (Farrow) and her previous relationship with Mickey (Allen) as he neurotically struggles to remain on the peripherals of her life, an adulterous affair between her husband Elliot (Caine) and her sister, Lee (Hershey).  And then there is her other sister, Holly (Wiest), a former cocaine addict who opens a catering business with April (Carrie Fisher).  The two complicate matters with a mutual attraction for an architect (Sam Waterston). Marvelous entanglements occur as the characters criss-cross and trample each other with one complication after another in their daily lives that feels natural in every since.

This is a complicated orchestration of relationships.  We get a failed marriage, sibling rivalry, and midlife discontent to chew over.  Situated like episodic novellas, Allen weaves together Hannah’s family – even her parents – for a humorously touching look at the fallacies – in spite of best intentions – of the utterly human art of dedication.  One character reaches an understanding that life is meaningless as another reaches their most important realization that life is best lived in love.  It’s a balancing act throughout the film.  And Allen zips everything together with thematic title cards.

If the whole “life is meaningless” theme sounds depressing perhaps the film’s comedic moments will be the lift you need to keep watching.  The comedy beats are sly and nearly perfect in matching the dramatic events of the picture.  Allen has a keen eye and its display of the wonderfully poignant is capable of telling a great many truths.  Hannah and Her Sisters is almost revolutionary in its natural observation of family connections.  Its top tier cast nails Allen’s words pitch-perfectly.

During its initial run, Allen’s film garnered widespread acclaim and received seven Academy Award nominations including Best Picture.  The film eventually won three; one went to Allen for Best Screenplay, and the others went to Caine for Best Supporting Actor and Weist for Best Supporting Actress.

Roger Ebert considers Hannah and Her Sisters to be Allen’s best film and, while that’s a hard one for me to call, I do suggest that this is one of his top five films and is, with Valentine’s Day approaching, not one to be missed in its Blu-ray debut.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Hannah and Her Sisters - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: PG-13.
Runtime:
103 mins.
Director
: Woody Allen
Writer
: Woody Allen
Cast: Mia Farrow, Dianne Wiest and Michael Caine
Genre: Drama | Comedy
Tagline:
Hannah and Her Sisters
Memorable Movie Quote: "Listen, kid, I think you snapped your cap. Maybe you need a few weeks in Bermuda or something. Or go to a whorehouse!"
Distributor:
Orion Pictures Corporation
Official Site:
Release Date:
February 7, 1986
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
January 15, 2013

Synopsis: Between two Thanksgivings, Hannah's husband falls in love with her sister Lee, while her hypochondriac ex-husband rekindles his relationship with her sister Holly.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Hannah and Her Sisters - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
5 Stars

3 stars



Blu-ray Experience
4 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - January 13, 2013
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono; Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono; French: Dolby Digital Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region encoding: region A

MGM gives Hannah and Her Sisters a nice 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that is as close to the original print as possible.  Sure, it’s grainy and it’s supposed to be.  You won’t notice how good the film looks but you will get a faithful representation of its colors – reds being the most vibrant – and with a nicely balanced saturation level, you won’t mind.  This is very filmic and with no scratches, stains, hairs, or heavy debris whatsoever, the grain structure looks completely natural.  The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono sound field is perfectly matched for this transfer.  It’s not bombastic but it doesn’t have to be.  This is a worthy upgrade for your library.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None.

Special Features:

Allen is not one for talking about his pictures.  We should not expect any supplemental material on any of his pictures.  Only a trailer is included.

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