Friday, October 12, 2012
HUSBANDS AND WIVES
(September 1992, U.S.)
I really miss Woody Allen! I know he's not dead (yet) and he still makes movies on a regular basis, but he just hasn't been the same, in my opinion, for well over a decade. I miss the totally neurotic, narcissistic Woody Allen of the island of Manhattan who's constantly worried about his health and can never seem to make his love life work. I miss the beautifully furnished apartments, the scenes of Central Park captured at just the right time of year and the quiet, intimate, candle-lit restaurants of Woody Allen's Manhattan. The Woody Allen films of Paris, Rome and Europe in general I just can't seem to get into. I suppose that's just the way it is as the man continues to age.
Woody Allen's 1992 film was released at just about the exact time the world discovered that Woody Allen and Mia Farrow were coming to an end because Woody decided to start fucking his adopted daughter, Soon Yi Previn. And because nothing helps a film's box office receipts like some good, juicy controversy or scandal, HUSBANDS AND WIVES did much better than it likely would have were it just another release during the director's career. Really, when you think about it, the timing couldn't have been more perfect - a movie about troubled marriages starring Woody and Mia just as their own real life marriage crumbles. It also coincidentally features Woody's character seducing a young twenty year-old college girl (named Rain!) played by Juliette Lewis. You know, I can still remember Woody going on TV and saying, "The heart wants what it wants." True, I suppose...I just can't see wanting Soon Yi Previn!
Now onto the film itself, which by the way, is inspired by Ingmar Bergman's TV mini-series SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE (1973). It's about two married couples. Gabe (Woody) and Judy (Mia) are seemingly happy together after many years. Jack (played by Sydney Pollack) and Sally (played by Judy Davis) announce that they're splitting up after many years together and that they're also both fine with it...supposedly. Marriage is complicated, we know, but Woody shows us that break-ups can be just as complicated. People move on to other partners. Sometimes they're bright, educated, sophisticated, old fashioned men for Judy like Michael Gates (played by Liam Neeson) and sometimes they're uneducated, ditzy, health food-obssessed, astrology-committed, yet fun and sexually exciting women for Jack like Samantha (played by Lysette Anthony). With Jack and Sally, we learn that despite a marriage with difficulties and despite futile attempts to move on with others, two people who have shared too many years, too many experiences and have very deep roots with each other are likely destined to be together forever, one way or another (that's how it is in the movies, anyway).
The marriage of Gabe and Judy is quite the opposite. The shocking announcement of Jack and Sally's break up at the beginning of the film provokes Judy's hidden desires to be free herself from a marriage she doesn't feel as passionate about any more. Many of Woody's films depict a great change in characters and circumstances within a relatively short period of time. Predictably, Gabe and Sally end up divorced by the end of the film and surprisingly Judy finds that despite her innner wishes of freedom, she's the type of person who needs to be married. She ends up marrying Michael Gates. This all actually inspires me to recall the lyrics in "Love Stinks" by the J. Geils Band that goes, "You lover her, but she loves him, and he loves somebody else, you just can't win. In a Woody Allen film, though, sometimes you do win.
Favorite line or dialogue:
Rain: "Okay, isn't it beneath you as a mature thinker, I mean, to allow your lead character to waste so much of this emotional energy obsessing over this psychotic relationship with a woman that you fantasize as powerfully sexual and inspired when, in fact, she was pitifully sick?"
Gabe: "Look, let's stop this right now because I don't need a lecture on maturity or writing from a twenty year-old twit!"
(I've dated my small share of twenty year-old twits in my time!)