For Reel

Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
February 24, 2016, 2:12 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Woody Allen
4.5 Stars
Crimes and MisdemeanorsThe 1970s took Woody Allen from a director of comedies to a man who was trying his hand at drama–1978’s Interiors is the most radical shift in his filmography, an Ingmar Bergman homage that had few of the hallmarks of a traditional Allen film at that point. The 1980s, then, were a decade where Allen continued to explore both his comic roots and the heftier themes of his more serious material. Crimes and Misdemeanors might be among Allen’s bleakest efforts, but ironically it doesn’t always feel that way–when the film follows Cliff’s (Allen) courtship of Halley (Mia Farrow), it has the feel of the doomed romance of one of his comedies, with audiences enjoying the residual pleasures of eating take out and watching old movies. But the plot involving Martin Landau’s Judah is suffocating in its dread, with Landau giving a remarkable performance as a man not only suffering with guilt, but newly aware of his potential and the impact of his decision-making. There are some problems with the juxtaposition–Judah is rewarded for his evil deed, and the picture wants us to believe that Cliff is ultimately a mench who has drawn the short straw (despite the fact that he’s bitter and enormously self-destructive)–but both halves of the story articulate how morality is measured in the modern age, the extent to which our choices define us, and how we construct our places within our social world.

3 Comments so far
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I’m catching up with Allen’s stuff, thanks for reminding me of this one.

Comment by vinnieh

I still have quite a bit of catching up to do myself. This was my first viewing! I’d say The Purple Rose of Cairo and Hannah and Her Sisters are the ones that resonated with me the most.

Comment by Eric Fuerst

I’m gonna check them out. I reviewed Vicky Cristina Barcelona today if you’re interested in reading it and my blog.

Comment by vinnieh

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