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Featured Blu-ray Review: Hannah and Her Sisters

March 7th, 2013

Hannah and Her Sisters - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

Hannah and Her Sisters made its Blu-ray debut the same week as Sleeper did. While Hannah and Her Sisters earned more critical praise, I was always a bigger fan of Sleeper, but it didn't arrive and Hannah and Her Sisters did.

The Movie

The movie begins with Elliott telling us how much he is in love with Lee. Unfortunately, Lee is the sister of his wife, Hannah. The family is all together for Thanksgiving, including Hannah's other sister Holly. She is a prospective actress who is starting a catering company with her friend, April, but to start her company, she needs to borrow $2,000 from Hannah. Hannah is more than willing to help, but is a little worried Holly is back on cocaine. The pair of them also talk about Lee. Lee's boyfriend, Frederick, is a no show for Thanksgiving, but that's common for him. He's an artist, a moody artist.

The Thanksgiving dinner goes off without a hitch, but in the aftermath some problems arise. Lee begins to wonder if Elliott has feelings for her. Also, she's worried her relationship with Frederick is dying. It has lost the spark it used to have. Frederick also realizes Elliott has feelings for Lee; in fact, he recognized that fact before Lee did.

We next meet Mickey Sachs, Hannah's ex-husband, who is a writer on a failing sketch TV show. He stops by is ex-wife's place to give his twin sons their birthday gifts before heading to the doctor's office. He's not really sick, but just a hypochondriac. He's a self-aware hypochondriac, so when the doctor actually diagnoses him with minor high frequency deafness, he's quite shocked that there is something wrong with him. It is probably just a sign of getting older, but he's convinced it is something more, like a brain tumor.

Holly and April's catering company has a great start, as they are both great cooks. On their first job, their food gets great reviews, but more importantly, they meet David Tolchin, an architect. There's an instant connection between David and Holly... as well as David and April. Awkward. Holly and April also become competitors for the same part they both auditioned for. Even more awkward.

All of these threads come together in a mostly negative way at the second Thanksgiving, but in ways that are spoilers. Will the family still be talking to each other by the third Thanksgiving?

Hannah and Her Sisters is widely regarded as one of Woody Allen's best movies, if not his best movie, and there are certainly plenty of reasons to make this claim. The writing is fantastic and the characters are fully realized with flaws and strengths and realistic relationships between them. There's a natural progression to the plot, so that even though it has Woody Allen's trademark style to it, it feels very organic. You can see these characters as real people who would make real mistakes, but you still can cheer for them to learn and become better people. It does feel episodic at times and Woody Allen's character does seem like he was dropped in from another movie. His job as a TV producer / writer has very little to do with the main narrative. That said, it is a minor complaint compared to the overall movie.

The Extras

Sadly, there are no extras on the Blu-ray. Also, the technical presentation is only good and not great. While there are good details in most scenes, there are some that are a little too soft or have a little too much noise present. The colors are good, but not particularly vivid. The audio has very clear dialogue, but there's not a lot of activity in the surround sound speakers... because it is a mono track.

The Verdict

Hannah and Her Sisters is a great movie, but a weak Blu-ray. The technical presentation is only good and it certainly doesn't take full advantage of the format. Finally, the price is a little high for shovelware.

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Filed under: Video Review, Hannah and Her Sisters, Mia Farrow, Woody Allen, Michael Caine, Carrie Fisher, Barbara Hershey, Max von Sydow, Sam Waterston, Dianne Wiest